Living a life of faith and following close to Jesus may not be unpredictable, but it can get pretty close. Priest and novelist Andrew Greeley said “If one wishes to eliminate confusion, uncertainty, tension, confusion and disorder from one’s life, there is no point in them getting mixed up either with Yahweh or Jesus of Nazareth.” Off the record, did you grow up or come to faith expecting that a relationship with God would bring order, certainty and calm rationality to life? If you did and if it has, you may need to wade into this adventure a bit deeper than your toes. Living, really living out a life of faith in Jesus involves a good bit of dynamic tension.
Christian leaders, perhaps even more so than us Christian “pedestrians,” often have an impulse to pin everything down, reduce behavior and doctrine down to predictable absolutes. I don’t think we tend to find that “lifed out” in the Bible. There almost always seems to be some mystery and uncertainty that characterize the relationships, especially the one between a perfect God and fallible human beings. Really now, if our God is unique and totally “other” than anything or anyone we could know, what possible way is there to describe Him and define His ways? Surely we would end up shrinking Him to something less than God.
To follow Jesus closely we must be able to accept a life which incorporates, actually invites tension. We are systematically called to do things which are humanly uncomfortable. We are commanded to do things far beyond our human wisdom and strength while relying on an invisible, supernatural God to supply us in our deficits. We are instructed to have faith in the unseen, love the unlovely as God does and sacrificially put the needs of others ahead of our own priorities. Now that’s a tall order. Impossible using our own means. What have we signed on for, Christian? I’ll tell you. We have stuck our necks in a yoke that will be the most adventuresome journey one could imagine, rewarded by the spiritual presence and encouragement of God while on this earth and the applause, approval, and reward by Him when we finally meet face to face.
As people of faith, we are always being called to believe in what necessarily cannot be proven and to commit to things of which we are unsure of how they will progress. As people of faith, we must be willing to proceed on incomplete evidence, and this can be scary and faith threatening at times. We are, in a sense, trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse. As Dennis Covington has written, “Mystery is not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend.” Surely it takes faith to be a Christ follower. But it also requires courage. And following closely has its own reward. Remember the assurances of our Leader when He said, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. “ (Heb. 13:5) He meant that. And “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) He did that. Think About It.