Dallas Willard was telling me this morning how few Christians actually allow (or possibly want) Jesus to teach them how to do life. We’ve got all these well-meaning Christians turning to Oprah or Dr. Phil or Foucault or Sartre (if you can believe it) for a way to guide their lives. We tend to ignore, when it comes down to it, the very person our faith tells us lived life to the fullest.
We like to say, in Evangelical circles, that the Gospel will change our lives and people will be attracted to that change. We believe that people will see that we are somehow different and want whatever it is that makes us so. But then we go out and start talking to people about how sinful and terrible they are, how they’ve got to change or else, turn or burn, and whatnot. Then we wonder, how come no one listens to me?
Our system is perfectly designed to to yield these results.
Jesus, on the other hand, had, one at least two occasions, thousands of people chase him down around the Sea of Galilee, sit and listen to him for so long they couldn’t be sent home for food for fear they may faint along the way (Mk 6:30-44; 8:1-13). I don’t know about you, but I start to get a little grumpy and unsettled when I miss lunch. So what was it about Jesus that people simply forgot about their need for dinner? They weren’t taking Jesus’ class for credit; there would be no penalty for getting up and walking home before he finished talking; these weren’t mandatory meetings. Rather, something about Jesus naturally compelled them to stay.
So the question is this: Is that your Jesus? Is that the kind of person you’re becoming? Get a little less personal, perhaps: Have you ever met anyone like this? Have you ever encountered anyone about whom you thought, “I simply cannot leave this person; I must have this?”
My encouragement is just this: Read the gospels. Allow yourself to dream that this is real. Allow your heart to leap after the possibility that this could be you, too.