Scattered Ramblings on Following Jesus

At church this morning, the pastor’s Scriptural text was Mark 1:14-20, in which Peter, Andrew, James, and John left the fishing business to follow Jesus and fish for people.  The pastor was saying that we all have to make this decision each day: Will we follow Jesus?  Will we, for example, love our neighbor and even our enemy?  The pastor said that we need God’s help for this each and every day, which could be one reason that the Lord’s Prayer says “Give us this day our daily bread.”

I do like that “one day at a time” approach.  In terms of “following Jesus,” I’m not entirely sure what that means.  Do I follow Jesus each day?  I do not entertain the choice of leaving everything behind and becoming an itinerant missionary, I can tell you that.  Do I love my neighbor?  Well, I do talk with my Mom and ask how she’s doing.  Maybe my blog is a form of love for neighbor, since I am sharing with others.  I read books, and maybe reviewing them does a service for the authors and readers.  Still, there is a lot of ego and desire for attention in all that.  Do I love my enemy?  I often struggle with seething in anger against my enemies, and, when it gets too bad, I take a prayer break.  How about giving to the poor, which is emphasized in the Bible?  Well, I am not going out and doing community service.  Would God be happy if I regularly donated to the Food Bank?  Would that satisfy him?  My life is pretty solitary.  Can one follow Jesus in solitude?  One can interact with God and learn about him.  I do admit that all of those activities that I mentioned, and more, are things that one can do to follow Jesus.  But does one have to do them?

I hope to start a job in a little over a week.  Will I be following Jesus there?  Well, I will be a dedicated employee.  I will help people there as part of the job, and helping people can be part of following Jesus, even though it is not specifically Christian but part of the job.  Will I be a “light for Jesus” at work?  I most likely won’t evangelize to people (and, by the way, a customer way trying to evangelize to me when I was checking out the job site after church this morning).  I do think that trying to be a “light for Jesus” can give me a sense of purpose each day and make me a better person.  But there have been times in my life when trying to be a “light for Jesus” has been a burden that I have not been able to carry: it has amounted to me feeling bad because I am not perfect in others’ eyes, or in fact.

I have been reading a Lutheran book, which I will be reviewing tomorrow.  The author says that he is frustrated when people ask him if they need to do good works, since they are saved by grace.  The author is tempted to ask them, “Why do you ask?  Don’t you want to do good works?”  To be honest, I often don’t.  I feel safe in my room and would like to stay there.  I appreciate that good works need to be done, but I have to push myself to do them.  They do not come automatically to me, as the Lutheran author seems to think should be the case for Christians who have received God’s free gift of grace.

I hope that I can say that I follow Jesus in my own way, as I honor God in my thoughts, and as I, with God’s help, become compassionate to others in my thoughts.  Many Christians may say that’s not good enough.  Oh well.

There was something in the pastor’s sermon this morning that I particularly liked.  The pastor was asking us if we truly believe that we are in control of our lives, the way that the disciples were when they left everything to follow Jesus (or so they thought).  To be honest, I would say “no.”  So many things are beyond my control.  Adding Asperger’s to the mix makes it worse.  In any case, what I like about the pastor’s sermons is that I sometimes wonder where he is going with his points, and they get into my head that way.  I find them intriguing.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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