Sometimes, it seems to me that people get more bogged down, more burdened, and more tired, the deeper they get into Christianity. I’m fairly certain that isn’t the way Jesus wants it to be.
My mom sometimes makes “Honey Do” lists for my dad. Sometimes they’re just verbal, which doesn’t really do him much good because then there’s the whole remembering thing. And sometimes they sit on our kitchen counter for a few months, over on the corner by the phone, in my dad’s angular, slanted, but neat handwriting. More things get added, in my mom’s flowery cursive and sometimes in my messy scrawl or Brooke’s perfect penmanship. He’s crossed off one, now two. Then, one weekend, he crosses off the rest of them in one fell swoop. Finally, he has all the “Honey Do”s taken care of.
I don’t think Jesus is like that. (Not to say that my mom isn’t like Jesus. She is.) I don’t think that when you choose to follow Him you get a list of expectations, just belief at first, then slowly but surely, obligations and rituals and burdens are added to the list.
Not to say that following Him is easy and uninconveniencing, (totally not a word, but I’m going to use it anyways) but rather that it’s upfront. And actually rather freeing, the more wholly you embrace the whole discipleship deal.
I’ve been set free.
Not from a life of addictions or anything like that, but rather from the legalistic, self-promoting view of Jesus that I used to have.
When you’re young, sometimes Jesus is used as a reason for you to follow the rules. Sometimes well-meaning people start to develop a view of Jesus that makes Him seem like the ultimate rule-giver. You thought your parents gave you a lot of rules? Well, welcome to following Jesus. Here’s our list. It starts with being quiet while other people are talking and builds up to sharing with everyone. And it’s not really their fault, because that’s an easy way to explain the most incredible, hard-to-believe-because-it’s-so-wonderful story ever.
Let me tell you, I’m being set free. A good example of this is how I worship. My first church experience was in a church where I don’t think worship was fully embraced. I’m don’t think they did it wrong by any means, but there’s so much more. Worship is a lifestyle of adoration. So, for me, freedom means that I don’t sing about Jesus and His love. I sing to Jesus. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe I just listen to the people around me because my heart needs to hear Him adored by other people.
It looks like putting Jesus at the center, not just while I sing at church, but everywhere. I’m learning that it doesn’t really matter if that makes me seem strange or like I’m a one of those starry-eyed religious people. I’m still a real person, and I still don’t have much tolerance for sappiness. But love for Jesus isn’t sappy, it’s real.
“Jesus at the Center” – Israel Houghton is the song in my heart today.