Monday, April 15, 2013
Repost: Who Are You?
This was first posted on May 7, 2009.
I'm sure many of you remember the story of Ferdinand the bull. Ferdinand was a bull in Spain who was unlike all the other bulls. While the other young bulls were doing normal bull things, Ferdinand was content to sit in the shade of a cork tree and smell the flowers. Even when some tried to make Ferdinand act more like a normal bull, he remained true to what he was and lived out his days sitting in the shade and smelling flowers. The book ends with, And he was very happy."
As I listened to the story this morning, I thought about the lessons that followers of Jesus can draw from this story. We can be pulled many different ways by those who want us to conform to their image of what a Christian should be. Some will say that we should adhere to a particular set of doctrines and rules in order to be "right with God." Others will say that we should belong to a particular political party and subscribe to a certain political philosophy. Still others will say that we should just keep our beliefs private and not let our practice leak outside the church walls.
When Jesus called his disciples, he didn't call each one of them to follow him exactly the same way. He called fishermen, a tax collector, even a political radical. While they all learned the same things, how those things worked out in their lives and ministries was different for each one. Some were called to give the Gospel to Jews, others to Greeks and Romans, still others to India and other places outside the Roman Empire.
So it is today. Jesus calls us to give everything up and follow him. That means different things for different people. Some are called to turn from their reliance on material things and use their wealth to help others, while others are called to sell everything and live as one of the poor. Some are called to teach, others are called to serve behind the scenes. Some are called to be giants of faith, and others are called to have faith in the midst of their doubts. Some are called to have great, well known ministries, while others are called to work in obscurity, waiting to hear the Master say, "Well done." Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle.
The worst thing we can do is try to follow Jesus exactly the same way that (insert name here) does, or try to follow in a way prescribed for us by others. If we truly believe that Jesus has given his Spirit to teach us and guide us, then the One whose opinion we should seek is the One who is presented to us in the Gospels.
Be encouraged on your journey. Jesus has promised to teach us the way the he wants us to follow him. That path will take us places that others are not going to visit, and it may well leave us open to criticism from those who don't understand our journey. It doesn't matter, because in the end, what counts is the approval of the One who loves us and gave his life for us.
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