I have participated in the Synchroblog for quite a while. But just as all good things must come to an end, the Synchroblog is closing shop. For this last synchroblog, participants were asked to write a blog post as if it were their only blog post ever.
In other words, if I had just one blog post to write, what would it be?
I have spent the last several weeks thinking about what I would write if I could write only one post.
I knew that it had to have something to do with Scripture and theology, since that is what I enjoy writing about. I wanted to write about some of the central biblical and theological truths that had rocked my world over the past decade, such as mimetic rivalry and scapegoating, or my growing conviction that God is not violent.
I also knew that it had to have something to do with the radical, free grace of God in Jesus Christ. Since so many people are caught up today in some form of works-based, guilt-based, performance-based religion, the outrageous, shocking, scandalous grace of God is a nuclear bomb that demolished everything you think you know about God and following Jesus, but at the same time, rebuilds and regrows everything into a new relationship with God built on love, joy, and freedom.
But I also knew that knowing Scripture, and knowing theology, and knowing about grace is not really the point of it all. The point of it all is to actually live this stuff out in real-world relationships by loving other people.
In the end, I finally realized that all these themes were centered on one common thing. Or I should say, they were centered on one common person: Jesus.
Jesus truly is all
If you want to understand the character and nature of God, just look at Jesus. Since God looks like Jesus, all proper thinking about God begins and ends with Jesus. Once you view God through Jesus, you begin to understand God so much more.
It is Jesus who revealed the mimetic rivalry and the scapegoating sacrifices that both threaten and bind all human cultures, civilizations, religions, and relationships. Once you view humanity through Jesus, you begin to understand humanity so much more.
It is Jesus who reveals that God is not violent; that there is no violence in God at all. And because of this, if you want to understand the violence of God in the Bible, you need to begin by looking at Jesus, and especially what Jesus did on the cross and how He appeared on the cross. “Christ, and Him crucified” is the key to understanding divine violence.
It is in the life of Jesus where you see most clearly what shocking, scandalous, outrageous grace looks like. While religion keeps sinners at a distance, Jesus parties with them like there’s no tomorrow. He makes friends with the worst of the worst (from a religious perspective) and tells stories which make heroes out of all the wrong people. He loves those the world says are unlovely. He touches the untouchable. He forgives those who think they cannot be forgiven.
All of this, of course, was no mere “theology” for Jesus. Jesus didn’t have a “theology” so much as He had a life focused on love. Everything that He said and did was to show people that He liked them, that He loved them, that He wanted to be with them.
The example of Jesus is so strong, that even people who do not believe in God, or who think that Jesus is a figment of historical imagination, are still inspired by the example of Jesus to live with more love toward others. The pull of Jesus is so strong, that in one sense, all the world is following Jesus.
So if I only had one message, one article, one blog post, or one thing to say to you, it would be this:
I don’t care what you think about Jesus. I don’t care what you think about God. I don’t care what you think about Christians, or the Bible, or church, or politics, or religion, or anything else that people get so wrapped up in. My invitation to you is still the same:
Just follow Jesus.
And trust me … if you follow Jesus, you will never get bored.
Jesus will lead you to the craziest of places and teach you the most amazing things. He will help you become truly “you.”
If you want to learn about God, Jesus will show you what God is like.
If you want to understand the Bible, Jesus will be happy to explain it to you.
If you want to get along with your neighbor, your boss, your spouse, or even your enemy, Jesus specializes in helping us learn to love.
I have written over 2000 blog posts on this blog, and while it may not be obvious on all the posts, every single one of them has been focused on one thing: I want to follow Jesus wherever He leads and I invite you to do the same.
But how can you follow Jesus?
I always try to be somewhat practical on this blog. I know that the invitation to “follow Jesus” is a little vague. We hear it so often in sermons and books, it has come to be almost meaningless.
So you might be asking these sorts of questions:
What does it mean to follow Jesus? How can someone do it? What are the steps? How can you follow someone you cannot see or hear?
My answer will probably not be very helpful, but it’s the best one I’ve got. My answer this:
You follow Jesus by believing that He’s leading you.
I know this is still terribly impractical, but it’s the only way I know to describe it.
There are no 10 steps for you to learn.
There are no doctrinal statements to sign.
There are no meetings to attend.
There are no Bible studies to take.
You simply trust that as you go about your day, Jesus is leading you. Following Jesus begins with a mental conviction, a mindset, or a frame of reference that Jesus is leading you.
And He will.
You won’t see much change immediately.
It might take a couple months, years, or even decades. But eventually, you look around in wonder and think, “How in the world did I get here?”
Jesus will wink and smile, and say, “Just wait until you see where I take you next. You ready?”
YES! THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT REMINDER!
Alabama Independent says
Yes, we just need to follow Jesus. But we need to know why we are following Him? We are following Him because we believe He died on the Cross, and that we trust in that only His shed Blood forgave all our sins. And also we trust and believe that His sacrificial death is what gives us eternal life. If we understand that FIRST, then we will understand that following Jesus is all that matters.
Jeremy Myers says
There are different ways to follow Jesus. I mean, all the disciples in the Gospels followed Jesus for three years before they believed anything about the cross, or the death and resurrection of Jesus. So it is possible then (and now as well) to follow Jesus without believing in some of these things.
Alabama Independent says
Yes, the Disciples may have not have initially understood Salvation through the Shed Blood of Christ on the Cross. But the Apostle Paul was used of the Holy Spirit to bring them to understand these Truths. [I Corinthians 1;23: “But we teach Christ crucified….”]
I am not a Bible Scholar, but from my reading and listening to ministers whom I trust with their interpretations of Scriptures, I content that NO ONE who does not believe that God gave us Jesus, who died on the Cross, and His shed blood forgave our sins, and that his Resurrection from the grave gives us that Eternal Life if we Believe what Jesus taught and follow those teachings to the best of our ability. Yes, I know that we are Saved By Grace. We are not worthy of being save by these beliefs. But God loved us enough that He gave us unconditional Grace as long as we so believe.
Out of curiosity, what other ways do you say one can follow Jesus and be Saved?
Thanks is all about HIM Jesus.We need the Holy Spirit to fully reveal Jesus to us for us to follow !
Jeremy Myers says
Yes. That is true. But the Spirit never points people to Himself, but always and only glorifies the Son. So any ministry that talks a lot about the Spirit is probably not following the Spirit OR Jesus.
J A Carter says
Yes, following him is all that matters. As he told Mary and Martha, “Only one thing is important.” Excellent final Synchroblog!
Lovely post, Jeremy! Thank you for participating…well done.
Yes! For me a great book on this is Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge. How do we get to know Jesus and experience Him for who He truly is? First by removing the debris of religion and the limits we put up and then by looking for his personality. by reading into the personality behind the words/actions of Jesus in the gospel specifically! when we get to know His personality – which is the truth way and life – then we can test all other things in the bible against His character and that is how some get to the outrages things they say that is contradictive to religion. lol.
I had posted this on Facebook in 2015 and it popped up recently as a reminder. What a great reminder! I have and am going through huge changes in my life and re-reading this today has reminded me of that gloriously wonderful fact that Jesus is leading me. I sometimes doubt that or wonder much about where He is leading me, but it is good to be reminded that I can trust Him to lead me where He will for He knows best, even when it looks as though it’s not the best thing. So, yes, I must reaffirm that I am ready, even though I seem not to be, to be led into the next step, the next path, the next adventure with Jesus. Thanks so much for this, Jeremy.
Aidan McLaughlin says
When I think not of Jesus, but just of self. Life grows bland, a dusty book upon a shelf. For life without him to whom I owe my all. Would not be worth living at all, at all. When the mirror becomes misty I rub it,s glassy face. And refocus on jesus, and his eternally outrageous grace.
Was Jesus the God of the Old Testament? I hope not. The God of the OT had a penchant for slaughtering little children. Not someone I would want around my children.