One night at church, we gathered in small groups to pray. A woman in our group prayed the most beautiful prayer I’d heard in a while:

“Thank you for putting up with our ridiculousness.”

The prayer resonated in my heart at the time and it still does. “Ridiculous” is not a term of flattery. Unfortunately, I fear there’s more of it in all of us than we’d like to believe, especially when it comes to living as a disciple of Christ. As much as I hate to admit, I know there’s far too much in me.

Followers of Jesus do what He did. discipleship

Jesus fasted, spent hours in quiet prayer and meditation with His Father, and loved sinners like me. He embraced the lost and the prodigals and called them to come home to their Heavenly Father. Jesus loved and spent time with thieves, drunkards, and people trapped in all kinds of sexual sin. He loved them and when He told them to stop their sin they did.

Why did they change? Because they knew they could trust Him. They knew He loved them as they were but wanted more for them. He invited them to know their Heavenly Father, inspired them to choose a different life, and He helped them to change. He had both the power to forgive sin and the willingness to forgive it. No matter what. He still does.

Do you know who didn’t change? The Pharisees.

The people who were a part of the religious establishment heard Jesus’ words and said, “I’m not doing that.” They did the things people could see – fast, go to church, make public donations – but they didn’t love the lost. They didn’t embrace the unlovely or spend time with the people trapped in a lifestyle of sin. They didn’t want to do any of those loving acts, so they didn’t.

The Pharisees (the most religious people in the country) were hopelessly trapped in a lifestyle of prejudice, hate, and unrepentance.

I do not want to be a Pharisee.

I want to be the follower who says, “I’ll do whatever you do, Jesus.”

There was a time when I was the person trapped in a sinful lifestyle. I was miserable but I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t happy. People probably didn’t want to spend much time with me either for fear my sin would rub off on them.

I thank God for the people who cared enough to point me to Jesus. They kept on pointing me to Him until I saw my sin as He saw it, repented, and asked Jesus to save me. I shudder to think where I’d be if a few followers of Jesus had not loved sinners like me.

Our world is full of people trapped in darkness, trudging through life with a crushing burden of sin. They’re waiting for someone to love them out of the darkness and into the light but most of them don’t even know it. We can be the light bearers. The way-leaders. If we’re a follower of Jesus, it’s not optional.

love your neighbor as yourself
“Love your neighbor as yourself” means we love, even if our neighbor does things we don’t like. (Mark 12:31) “Take up your cross and follow Me” means we follow, even if we don’t like where Jesus wants us to go. (Luke 9:23)

The life of a disciple is not about what we want or what the world offers. It’s about Jesus and what He wants. “Christian” and “disciple” should be synonymous. If we are Christian, we live as a disciple. It’s that easy. It’s that hard. Disciples abandon our ridiculousness, embrace our Savior who loves us all, even when we’re unlovely, and love the ones Jesus loves. It’s what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to live.

We trade “I won’t” for “I will” and follow Him even when it’s hard.

Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 NLT

Keep reading for more ways to connect and links to additional blog posts you might enjoy:

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Want to read more? Here are links to a few other posts:

Offering Friendship

Will We Make Room for God in Our Lives?

On Being Beloved

Daffodils: Harbingers of Hope 

Repentance and the Benefits Package

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discipleship

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