Nobody follows Jesus anymore. Just look around, and you’ll see what I mean. How often do you ever see someone show love to a person who is in their face? Have you ever once heard of anyone chasing a thief down the street screaming, “Hey, you forgot my DVD player!” or witnessed a person who has just been slapped in the face turn their head to offer the other cheek?
I doubt it.
That’s my point. Jesus had some pretty radical teachings. Love your enemies. Pray for those who abuse you. Give to those who steal from you. Lend without expecting anything in return. Bless those who curse your name.
Even the most casual glance at the words and teachings of Jesus will tell you this guy had unreasonable expectations of those who would dare to follow Him. It was almost as if He was trying to thin the crowd by raising the bar so high.
He doesn’t stop there. No sir. Jesus even goes so far as to say that those who follow Him must deny themselves and take up their own cross (an instrument of brutal torture and death). In fact, He says if you don’t do this, you “cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
No wonder no one follows Jesus anymore.
Now, I’m not suggesting people don’t believe in Jesus anymore. There are millions and millions of people out there who really do believe a guy named Jesus actually lived 2,000 years ago. They believe that He was the Son of God, and God the Son, and that He lead a sinless life, died on the cross for their sins and rose bodily from the grave three days later. Yep. They all believe that. But, those people don’t really follow Jesus, not the way He expected them to.
Maybe that’s why Jesus wondered out loud, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Maybe He knew after 2,000 years of Christianity, we’d just have given up on following His specific example of how to live.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “It’s not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it’s that it has been found difficult and left untried.”
I think Jesus really did expect His followers to live extravagant lives of love as He commands in Luke 6:27. He wasn’t kidding around.
He’s pretty clear that the kind of love the world has is nothing special at all. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that” (Luke 6:32). Jesus was trying to get His potential followers to understand they were expected to model a standard of love that went far, far beyond what anyone living on this planet had ever encountered or dreamed of before. A kind of love that could change someone’s life for eternity.
Once you understand this, it starts to make more sense. Jesus calls His followers to this kind of life for a reason—so we can show those who aren’t aware of the kindness of God what it means to be loved, forgiven and shown mercy.
Yes, Jesus expects us to actually do these things.
Yes, it will hurt.
Can you think of a better way to show those who are far from God that He really loves them, Christianity is the “real thing,” and forgiveness is for them?
Imagine a world where we all actually did this stuff on a daily basis.
Would it change the world?
Would it change the world’s idea of Christianity? Of Christ?
Would it set the teachings of Jesus apart from every single other religious figure who had ever lived?
Isn’t it ironic to think the most radical thing a modern Christian could do today would be to simply do exactly what Jesus says? Yeah, it’s really a shame that no one really follows Jesus anymore. But, can you imagine what would happen to the world you live in if even a few people actually did?
Not only that, Jesus promises those who actually do put His words into practice will be blessed and have life abundantly. Maybe it’s time to start following Jesus? Maybe it’s time to take Him seriously? What do you think?
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).[Keith Giles is currently writing his own story about his year-and-a-half in the wilderness and putting together a few subversive projects of his own in his spare time. You can see one of them at www.parabolicjournal.com.]