I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
Stumbling Behind Jesus
When setting up my Facebook page a few years ago it asked me to identify my religion. I sat there for a moment contemplating this question. You’d think it would be easy for me, but it wasn’t. I mean, really, what’s the hang up? I’m the pastor of a Christian church and a Baptist one to boot! But for some reason the question bothered me.
I suppose there were many reasons for this. First, I don’t really like “religion” at all. I’m not very good at it. Rules and rituals stifle and bore me. I can get into it for a little while, but after a bit I begin to just fall into a lifeless and legalistic…religion. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t call us to a religion but instead called us to Him. There’s a very big difference.
Secondly, I thought about putting down Christian. That does make sense, doesn’t it? After all, I am a Christian. If asked to check a box on one of those forms (like at the hospital) describing your religion I wouldn’t check Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or other. I’d in good conscience and with great conviction check Christian! Of course I would. So why not describe myself as Christian on Facebook? I’m not sure except it seems to me that most of the people in the USA who believe in God would describe themselves as Christian whether or not they genuinely are. I know that before truly coming to Christ I would have described myself as a Christian just because I grew up in a so-called “Christian” church. I suppose this is why Christian would not do.
Thirdly, I seriously considered placing some adjectives in front of the word Christian. Something like: evangelical, Baptist, Bible-believing, somewhat Reformed, conservative-moderate, free-thinking Christian. But this seemed kind of ostentatious, which is not a flattering characteristic of a Christian. So I figured I’d better keep thinking about it.
Fourthly, I thought about calling myself a Follower of Christ under the religion section on Facebook. Ah, yes, this would work! This is the goal of my life – to follow Jesus Christ! This gives more clarity to those who wonder. It makes more sense than just Christian (even though I unashamedly refer to myself as a Christian too). Christ-follower, that works. But something seems too confident in that assertion. It makes me appear as more than what I really am and makes my following of Jesus to be better than it really is. So I had to think of something else.
Finally, I got it. Under my religion I simply put: Stumbling behind Jesus. Why? Because this is what I do. I am a Christian who does follow Jesus. But follow Him perfectly – no way. My following of Jesus is more like stumbling. Stumbling is the right word. If Jesus were a trail guide leading me up a mountain path I would at times be there right beside Him, enjoying the conversation and scenic views. But more often than I care to admit I would trip over a rock on the path and stumble. Sometimes falling and sometimes falling hard. Instead of scenic views I lie bloodied in the dirt. At other times I feel like I can’t keep up with Jesus and never will. I have to stop and sit for a while in order to rest. Fortunately in those moments I hear Jesus say, “Scott, come to me, you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And He does. He picks me up and carries me along, helping me to follow Him again. It is His grace and strength that are sufficient in my weakness.
I’m very grateful that God says in His Word, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). This is a great comfort to one who stumbles like me. But sometimes I’m afraid that I’m the only one who stumbles behind Jesus, even though I suspect it isn’t true. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who loves Jesus and earnestly wants to follow Him, but finds it hard to read the Bible, hard to pray, hard to love, hard to serve, hard to sacrifice and hard to tell others about Jesus. I love Jesus but my flesh screams against these things. I know there are many followers of Christ out there who really love Jesus, but are there any other stumblers like me?
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “Yes! Stumbling behind Jesus describes me too!” You love Jesus, you follow Jesus, but you stumble. Maybe there are more of us than I think. Perhaps this is where Jesus wants us to be. Perhaps admitting our stumbling is the beginning of humility, contrition, and dependence that I believe God desires in us (cp. Isaiah 66:2; Isaiah 57:15).
Is it possible that we who stumble behind Jesus should just admit it and then we can all stumble together? When one stumbles another can help him up! When one falls, another can tend to his wounds. When a brother or sister is spiritually weak maybe we who are at that moment “spiritual” could help them in their weakness (Galatians 6:1). Is it possible that by stumbling together we might stumble less and actually become stronger, more faithful followers of Jesus? Is it possible that in this way we are the hands and feet of Jesus to one another? Wow.
Maybe it’s just me, but it almost sounds like this is what the church is supposed to be. “Let him who has an ear, let him hear.” Amen.