Are we following our own paths, our own desires, our own prejudices, our own sense of entitlement and perspective, or are we following Jesus?
Its so easy for us to delude ourselves into thinking what we’ve always done is the right thing, what we’ve always thought are the right thoughts, what we’ve grown accustomed to is the way it should always be. We have our ways, our thoughts, our beliefs, and for the most part they seem to have served us well. Somewhere in the back of my brain is always this nagging thought, “but is this how Jesus would do it, say it, enact it?”
When I put that question to myself, I get out of the box I’ve created and see a whole other pathway for where I might be led.
Change is hard for most of us, there’s no doubt about that. Change usually pushes us out of our comfort zone and that causes us angst. We like sameness and routine. Its easy, we know just how to do and what to say. Its almost like we don’t really have to think about it. I’ve had the occasion, probably just like yourself, to have persons come up to me on the street asking for money. My quick, almost non-thinking answer is “sorry, I can’t help you.” Its reflexive, and it certainly keeps me from really engaging with the person who approached me.
When I begin to think of Jesus, and following the path Jesus demonstrated for me, I’m quite embarrassed to claim the name Christian. I’m remembering how Jesus healed the sick, the lame, the blind, the leper. These are persons who would have been avoided, that was the custom of the day. The routine, the norm, the tradition would say these persons are unclean, or sinful, or paying for the sins of past generations. Jesus didn’t accept that, he challenged the tradition and saw people as precious and worthy, regardless of their status. The Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus should have shunned her and avoided conversation or contact, he didn’t. He interacted with her and brought the kingdom of God near to her. Jesus ate with tax collectors and those believed to be sinful. That was certainly a no-no. No decent upstanding religious figure would have been part of that kind of interaction. Again, Jesus followed a different path. The Roman centurion whose servant Jesus healed, that wasn’t according to tradition, or the norm. The Canaanite woman with a sick daughter, that kind of association was not to be expected.
I believe we have to be careful in citing a tradition, or a revered practice as to why and how we do things. I believe Jesus came as a change agent, trying to help us see that change doesn’t have to be scary or avoided, but rather embraced. If change will lead us to treat others with love and respect, to offer others grace and mercy, then that kind of change is life giving, life affirming, and certainly blessed by God. Many of us came to God in very traditional ways, we learned of God through traditional methods. In the climate of constant change, it may be we have to consider what path God is leading us to follow. It might not be the well-worn path we recall and affectionately remember. The path may have us walk way out of the way of what we are comfortable with. It just might lead us in proximity to a sister or brother who truly can experience God in a fresh and inviting way, even if it isn’t the same path we recall being on when we came to know God.
Lead on King Jesus, where you lead us we will follow.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,