Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 18, 2017

less often than always

Am i a Christian, or am i a follower of Jesus?  How i long to simply answer, “Yes!”  How i long to quickly and confidently correct the suggestion it should ever be a question of “or.”  “i am a Christian and a follower of Jesus!” This is how it should always be.  But as i consider the essence and implications of both, i find my “and” to be less often than always.

Belief and belonging – these are at the core of what it means to be a Christian.  It is certainly not that i don’t ever doubt, or sometimes feel forgotten or alone.  But i am confident in who Jesus is, what He did for me in dying and rising, and that i am once and forever His at the first moment of genuine belief and confession.  “i am a Christian!”

But then we come to follower, something altogether more and different that belief and belonging.  Following is faith with feet.

You might be wondering where this whole line of questioning and pondering came from.  i have come to love “obscure” mentions of characters or stories in the Bible.  i’ll be careful to qualify my use of that word as, “out of the way, simple, humble and not always explained or expounded upon.”  i found such a character and story in our reading this week, in Matthew’s telling of Christ’s crucifixion.  It follows the deeply sad sentence, “Then they led him away to be crucified.

Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.
Matthew 27:32 (NLT)

This is all Matthew’s gospel tells of the cross road.  The “obscure” mention of a random man from North Africa who is chosen by Roman soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross for part of the journey from the palace to Golgotha.  There is speculation as to why the soldiers chose to do this, and speculation as to the significance of this man from Cyrene.  But the Bible doesn’t explain or expound – maybe we should just leave it at that, too.

And this is where we return to the truth of following …

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NLT)

The Roman soldiers asked Simon to take up Jesus’, Jesus asks me to take up mine.  This is the essence of following, to take up our cross and walk with Jesus.  And this is why i find my “and” to be less often than always.  Believe and belong – that is one thing; to take up my cross – that is something altogether more and different.

Savior, with your help may i take up my cross now.  i have laid it down too often.  And as we walk, and you talk with me and encourage me in my carrying, may i see that it is has been You bearing the weight of it all along.  May i lay it down again, only to lay it at Your feet.

“i am a Christian, and i am a follower of Jesus!”

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Responses

  1. Though we all must bear our cross and follow, could it be that at times of great trial God sends a Simon to help? They are only there for a moment and we may never see them again, but their word, their smile, their touch makes all the difference because it’s the word, the smile, the touch of our Lord that knows that road so well.

  2. What an incredibly beautiful and true suggestion of who God is. i agree, my brother. And “praise God!” for each and every one of the Simon’s who are a part of my own story.

  3. Simple. rich, gracious and true! Enjoying the post and the comments!!


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