Year 2013 has arrived and I am excited. You should be as well. While we may or may not put much stock in the so-called New Year’s resolutions, the new year is always a great time to refocus on things that really matter. For me, what really matters is Jesus. Everything begins and ends with Jesus, living as his disciple in his kingdom way of life.
The new year is an opportunity for the church to follow Jesus in becoming good news to the weak, poor, and blind. And what an opportunity that is.
At the beginning of this new year, I am intrigued by something Jesus says to his disciples. ”Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” (John 14:12). It seems almost too good to be true. But it is true if…
When we read the context around that verse, which you can easily do on your own, we should be struck by the functionality Jesus has in mind. Jesus is not just concerned with his disciples believing in him in a religious sort of way… a way that acknowledge Jesus in religious settings but otherwise leaves our existing life in tact, a way that pretty much treats Jesus as just a religious attachment that is fitted into our lives (leaving out what does not harmonize well with our life). For Jesus, believing in him is to accept his way of life which is the only true way of life. This is where the rubber meets the road of faith and discipleship. True believers not only follow Jesus at his invitation but also learn to imitate him in his way of life. Anything else is just pretending.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me…”
Those who believe in Jesus will go on to do, as Jesus says, the works Jesus is doing and even greater things beyond that. But this is also the rub that we seem to have so much trouble with. We can sing songs about Jesus and say “Amen” to a sermon about Jesus but when it comes to the notion that we too must learn to live our life exactly as Jesus lived his life, out comes the objections…
- “Yes, but…”
- “Yes, but common sense says…”
- “Yes, but as an American…”
- Yes, but you don’t understand…”
Yes but I do understand. As long as we think as the world does, then the way of life Jesus invites us to imitate him in will always sound absolutely absurd or even unbecoming of people like us. And as long as we think as the world does, we will never truly believe in Jesus and follow him in his way. It is why we, like Nicodemus, must be born again, so that we can actually see the kingdom of God and understand heavenly things rather than be left with only an earthly view (cf. John 3).
The way of Christ will always be offensive to some and foolish to others but let it be our way in 20123, the way of truth and life, the way of greater things!