Our mission statement says we exist to “inspire and equip followers of Jesus Christ to live a lifestyle of disciples who make disciples.” There is a lot we could break down with that statement that is important to us. But one of the most important aspects is the word “lifestyle”. When it comes to our faith we find it easier to measure participation and effort. We can easily track how often we go to a church service, how many times we serve in a given month, even show how much money we give to charities. It is comforting that we can say we DO these things for God.
But it is much more challenging to measure our lifestyle and track what that is doing. Our lifestyle engrosses every aspect of who we are and reaches into the mundane and private moments of our days. We can “perform” for the world to see how good we are. Sometimes, we may even be performing for ourselves. We want to feel like we are living for God by what we do. But at the same time, we know that our hearts are still guarded and protected by our own kingdom. We choose to do good things for God but we want to hold on to what makes us comfortable and what makes us feel safe.
Jesus called a lot of people in his life. Often those callings were him asking them to “follow me”. In fact, Jesus used this phrase 13 times in the gospels (Matt. 4:18-22; Matt. 9:9; Matt. 19:21; John 10:27 to name a few). Those invitations were given so people could get a glimpse at Jesus’ world, pace, pattern, and mission. And when he extended those invitations they would be challenged to rewrite the way they do life. He was showing them a new lifestyle.
We often go back to this verse, but I feel it is an integral part of being a healthy follower of Christ. John 13:35 Jesus introduces a new commandment that his followers are to pattern their life around. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus has lived three years with his disciples showing them how he prayed, ate, observed the Law, rebelled against the traditions that misled the people, how
and who and what he taught, how he loved them even when they were foolish, how the approached the unapproachable, how he cared for the crowds that misunderstood them, and how he confronted the established religious hierarchy. The disciples saw and experienced the lifestyle that Jesus had and his pattern of life and his connection to God the Father.
Now they were told to pattern their lives for each other in the lifestyle of love for one another. This love would need to permeate the depths of their souls and be demonstrated for the world to see that God had truly visited them. Because Jesus had loved them so deeply and so contrary to what the deepest parts of ourselves do. He taught them that if they were to lead, they would need to be willing to be a servant of all. He taught them that humility meant to set aside your priority of wants and, dare I say, rights!?, for the needs of another person.
And this ethic goes beyond a one day a week. It is something that should permeate and engross every aspect of who we are and reach into the mundane and private moments of our days. As a follower of Jesus, we do not settle for moments of brilliance and count that as “enough”. We want to see our lives be increasingly influenced by the love our our Savior and how he responded to pressure and people to where we begin to pattern our ways similarly.
This is a pursuit of a follower. We will fail and in those moments we remember that we are not the Messiah. Jesus is. And he succeeded at being the Messiah. What a great relief and what a fantastic gift. So we continue to pursue his lifestyle as we make our mistakes and fumble about in our shortcomings. Because we know are not condemned when we fail (Rom. 8:1-4). We do want our lives to be transformed by and through his love for us. And as he told us, we want it to be evident through our lifestyle that we love him because we love others in the family of God.