Day 30 Follow Me
The Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, reminds us that Jesus did not say worship me, but follow me. The church often puts far too much emphasis on worshipping Jesus and far too little on following him, so do we as individual Christians. It is much easier to put Jesus up on a pedestal and offer our worship and devotion, than it is to do what Jesus asked us to do, which is to follow. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life” John 8:12. Jesus simply set out to carry the light of God’s love into life, and calls us to do the same.
It so easy to separate what we do on a Sunday morning from what we do the rest of the week. Someone I was talking to once referred to coming to church on a Sunday as “doing my ‘God bit’ for the week.” And they were serious; their ‘God bit’ was important to them, they rarely missed Sunday church. The only thing is, it bared very little relation to what they did the rest of the week, and how they lived their daily lives. They thought that God would be fine with it because they did their Christian duty on a Sunday. If we are honest, many of us can think a little bit like that.
Yet, the simple truth is that what we do on Sunday morning is only a fraction of what it means to live a Christian life, a vital bit, but a fraction nevertheless. Jesus does not call us to worship him, but follow him; and that has a massive impact on how we lead our lives, how we act, how we think, how we speak, how we serve, and how we love.
Being a Christian is a calling to “be Christ” in our world and “live Christ” in our daily lives. Our times of worship are vital because they are times that help equip us for our calling in life. Our times of worship and prayer are about opening us to Christ’s Presence so we can carry that presence into our daily encounters.
Our mantra is a constant reminder throughout the day that we are called to follow Christ, to be Christ, and to live Christ in each moment of the day. It sounds daunting, but we have to remember that it is not our responsibility to take Christ into daily life, Christ is already there. Our responsibility is to follow Christ there, be open to Christ’s presence in each moment, and allow that presence to inspire us and guide us.
A Sabbatical Encounter
Let down your nets for a catch
one more time, He said.
I have toiled many years,
I am tired, I need a change,
can’t I stop? I pleaded.
He stood on the shore, His face
sympathetic but resolute.
One more time, he said gently,
one more time. Trust me.
Something shifted at that point;
a fresh resolve began to emerge.
One more time, I said,
as our eyes and smiles met.
And I cast my net one more time.
A favourite poem of mine, by Rainer Maria Rilke, begins “Exposed on the cliffs of the heart….” When we meditate that is exactly what happens, we become exposed on the cliffs of the heart. That is why many find meditation so difficult to keep up, it exposes us for who we are. We cannot meditate for any period of time without realising our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, the strange thoughts and fantasies that go through our head. When we attempt to enter the realm of silence, we find ourselves exposed, naked, with nowhere to hide. We should not fear this nakedness and exposure, it is not the real us but the persona we have created; the persona needs to be exposed before we can discover our true selves. We do not like being exposed, open and vulnerable, but that is part and parcel of also being exposed to God, in whom we discover our true selves. As we meditate we will be confronted by our stranger, darker, nature but, we should not be discouraged by it. It may make us think we are useless at meditation, it may make us feel useless at being a decent human being; but we have to remember that this persona is not who we truly are, and this part of us has to be exposed and healed before we can find our true selves in God. So don’t despair, don’t give up; be willing to hang on the ledge of the cliff of the heart and be exposed, for then we are also exposed to God. Remember, any judgement only comes from our created persona and not in any way from God, who simply loves us with a love that is unconditional and eternal. So hang in there, pray your mantra, move your beads, breathe in and breathe out; and know you are loved.