I am moving very, very slowly through the four Gospels this year (hey, it's January, so you know I haven't gotten very far), and writing down everything Jesus said.
I want to have an up-close chronicle of what He said to do and to be in order to be His follower, to identify oneself with Him.
Last year I studied John very closely and noted everything Jesus said in regard to what one had to do to have eternal life. Short answer: repent of your sin and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
I wanted to shift my focus this year and see what Jesus said to do while we live as aliens and sojourners on this earth before we get to our real home. I am certain that I will be shocked by how loosely I follow His commands (if I follow them at all), especially in regard to how I treat others and bear witness of Him in my life. I know, I know, I know that Christ-following can't be limited to what I don't do (although there is a lot of behavior to avoid and stay away from, of course. Hating my sin is always a good idea. All my sin is ugly sin and needs to be put to death every single day. Jesus said.).
But Christ-following is also encompassed by going, doing, speaking, being, and making (disciples).
In Matthew, we only have to get to chapter 5 before we see Jesus opening His mouth and pouring out wisdom that we could never come up with on our own. I am convinced that following His words closely--and taking Him at His word--will change how I live.
I'm tired of regular faith that walks away from the Word mostly unchanged. (Is that really faith at all?)
I want to read the Word and see my sin reflected so I can flee from my selfishness and pride (for aren't those the roots of all my sin?).
I want to read the Word and with open hands and beg the Spirit to change me. (Only He can.)
I want faith that has arms and legs, hands and feet. (In other words, faith that is active.)
This Gospel was not meant to be gathered into my heart and treasured all alone.
By definition--GOOD NEWS--it is meant to be shared.
I am writing all this down if for no other reason than to put to words what I am learning and how the Lord is using His Word to push me out of my comfortable self-contained faith, and instead to go and make disciples. It is a little terrifying.