A HANDY FIELD-GUIDE TO SPOT A JESUS-FOLLOWER (don’t buy what the other guys are selling!)

The evidence of Jesus....

God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are. – Galatians 5:22-26

Dear Reader, here’s an important “BTW.” If you think this post is about you – then you’re right. If you think it’s about you alone, then you couldn’t be more wrong.

Over the next day or so this particular post will be accessed and read by anywhere between 300 and 1,000 people. My best guess – due mostly to today’s provocative and pointed content – is that the number will be closer to 1,000. And I am confident in saying that 100% of the thousand (including me) have, to one degree or another, contributed to or are an active part of the foundational problem.

POINT ONE: I am beyond frustrated regarding the overbearing judgementalism and glaring hypocrisy of the “I’m right and you’re wrong” religious moralists.

  • “You are evil because your theology is different from mine.”
  • “If you disagree with me then you’re going to hell because I’m saved and you’re not.”
  • “My god is real and yours isn’t” (lower-case “g” intended).
  • “Because we think you’re too liberal on social issues then that means your congregation/denomination/preacher isn’t ‘Bible-believing’…”

There are three important questions that I’ve been asking myself over the last five years or so: “What is God interested in? What does being a follower of the Jesus Way look like? and, “What does it mean to be ‘saved?'”

EMPHASIS: Recently I’ve been nothing if not consistent regarding two basic points of emphasis. I’m not only talking about my writing, but speaking on the road too, and also my work with small groups as well as discipling individuals.

One priority is this idea of “the life-charged life.” Not only is it the title of my primary blog, but it’s the filter through which I look at just about everything. My role as a professional communicator is that of interpreting what I mean by life-charged life and then presenting it in a way that both challenges and encourages other people.

The other rock on which I’ve been building my case for Jesus has been the bedrock value of kindness. I don’t think there’s been a single week go by over the past five years in which I haven’t reiterated my position regarding the primacy of kindness when it comes to the way we relate to other people as Followers of the Way of Jesus. This is especially crucial at home.

In the end, only kindness matters; (and I am never broken). Jewel – HANDS

And so, to answer my questions above:

  1. What is God interested in? God is interested in seeing God’s children experience the life-charged life. Such a life is only possible in the liberating context of reestablishing a covenant relationship with God. Jesus is The Way home. “God’s spirit has given us life,” Paul wrote, “and so we should follow the spirit.
  2. What does being a follower of the Jesus Way look like? Jesus said that it would be obvious who his disciples were by the way that they love one another. The apostle Paul pointed out that the evidence (or “fruit”) would tell the truth about the story. “God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.”
  3. What does it mean to be “saved?” “Salvation” – as presented throughout the Bible – is the process of teaming up with God, and of participating in whatever God is up to. In the long run, it’s a partnership that continues in joy after our earthly life is over. Ergo, we won’t be separated from God. Salvation is NOT a one-time event that punches our ticket for heaven.

“So,” you may ask, “does this understanding give you any confidence regarding the classic question: ‘If you die today, do you know where you are going?'” Well duh! I’m already there! When I die I will continue to enjoy this amazing, dynamic, productive relationship with God.

Plus the evidence of this relationship – the authenticity of my faith – is going to reveal itself in my life right now. And that brings me back to the fruit of God’s presence, the evidence of being loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.

Committed to the practice of faithful love

IMPORTANT! And so, if anyone yells at you about their God (god)… if they lambast you and put down your faith… if they are unkind to you… if they relate in a way that fails to demonstrate that they are:

  • LOVING
  • HAPPY
  • PEACEFUL
  • PATIENT
  • KIND
  • GOOD
  • FAITHFUL
  • GENTLE
  • or SELF-CONTROLLED…

Then don’t buy what they’re selling. I can guarantee that it’s not Jesus. – DEREK

7 comments

  1. A good “rant” . . . and timely as we try to move beyond the “metrics” of church attendance, etc., in trying to identify “followers of Christ” and measure changed lives and the spiritual development of people.

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  2. Hi, Derek! God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son grant us the stupendous gift of salvation despite ourselves. Because we are sinful humans, we scarcely earn our way to Heaven. We never truly “deserve” Heaven. That shows how incredibly liberal God is that He forgives all sorts of sins, some quite grievous. So I keep holding to the proposition that Jesus would never identify Himself with the kind of virulent, partisan, conservative politics we observe every day. The political right has hijacked a lot of “Christianity” to suit its own agenda and has therefore defiled Christianity. People like you and me have an enormously difficult job to do to counteract this insidious hijacking and its attendant perversity. Keep the Faith and Peace and Blessings

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  3. I think the following is pertinent at a time when so many want the rhetoric to be toned down and when that request or demand so often comes from a forked tongue, The speech by Netanyahu mentions truthfully how the Germans and Jews of the 30s and 40s who tried to warn Jews and non-Jews about the horror that had already been planned and was beginning to be executed. God knows how many Germans and even Poles at the end of WWII shook their headsw violently in denial that the fuhrer [even as bad as he was] certainly could not have done the terrible things he really did.

    Granted, this article might seem to have nothing to do with the issue of religious rights and justice but I approach it with caution as the kind of thing which is used to silence the Christian or Jew of today who are so often called “loud and intolerant” but the voices of our liberals today are using this kind of talk as one tool to silence us. I personally know this as one who writes and speaks some stuff which causes even family members to twitch in their seats but I cannot forget that the vast majority of Christian priests, ministers and leaders bore the shame of their silence about the “Jewish Question” in those terrible dark days of Hitler’s holocaust.

    Maybe I read the article and it’s intent very wrongly but this is what may be hiding between the lines. I hope not and in reality the article is perhaps remote to most folks. It fascinates me how many Christian leaders think public anger is against the teachings of Jesus! Rally? well if that is true somehow Jesus missed his own message at times.

    The big issue of civility cannot excuse ignoring our own holocaust when our own nation’s leader makes no secret of his intent to make sexual deviation and morality along with easy free abortion for everyone the hallmark of everything he does.

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    • Interesting observations.
      However, I have no difficulty listening to the truth from Jesus. Jesus was all about the truth.The problem I’m referencing is when “Christians” fail to live and speak and witness with any observable evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. When “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, faction…” characterize the way a “Christian” relates to others, then that’s not evidence of the Spirit of Christ, it’s evidence of something else.

      And I see way too much of it. This has nothing to do with being either a theological Liberal or a Theological Conservative (I’ve been labeled both in recent months!). Neither liberals nor conservatives have any greater stake in biblical truth than the other.
      But Jesus has a stake in love, and the evidence of that is in the fruit.

      Because of Love – DEREK

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