The choices we make define who we are and who we want to be.
Sometimes being a part of church gets me down.
We talk a big game. We say we want to reach out to people in the community and prioritise ministry with young people, but we don’t. Not really.
I mean, sometimes we do. In spits and spurts, as we’re prompted by and enlivened by the Spirit of God, we’ll jump into the Next Big Mission Thing™ and there’ll be a flurry of activity, and it might last for a while. Inevitably it becomes too costly, or too hard to maintain, or just plain uncomfortable to participate in. “We didn’t plan it well enough,” we console ourselves. “The pandemic worked against us.” “I’m too old to help out in that thing.” “We thought we knew what young people/the community/other people wanted but it wasn’t the right time.” “They don’t understand this is the right way to do things.”
It’s much more comfortable to expect everyone else to change to fit us and our ways.] We’re the ones that are saved, after all. We’re already changed.
Making the choice to follow Jesus upended everything in our lives. It changed the way we looked at the world and it altered our priorities. For some of us that decision still feels fresh and guides us anew daily; for some, that decision feels like it was so long ago. I’ve felt both of those at various times in my life: following Jesus is hard work because things pile up, and people disagree with you, and nothing seems to play out like you’d hoped. You’re worried about your debts, and you can’t seem to find a job, and nobody (not even your family) calls to see if you’re doing OK. Feelings of joy, of sadness, and everywhere in between.
Sometimes we soar with eagles, and sometimes we run with weasels.
My view of what it means to be a follower of Jesus was forever changed when a wise friend taught me that love is a choice, not a feeling, and one we make daily.
When we choose the way of love, we are choosing the way of God because God is love. The people we love – intimately, familiarly, generously – we do so by choice, not because of some magical warm feeling inside us. God is at work in every person who claims and offers love because God is already at work in the world, reconciling creation back into relationship with the Creator…and God calls each one of us to participate.
When I choose the way of Jesus I am choosing the way of love; the way of new beginnings. The way of fresh starts. Of mulligans and do-overs. Every day. A way that includes and exudes forgiveness because in the beginning God was and always will be love.
Every day as we make the choice to follow Jesus and choose the way of love, we are saying that the things we hold most precious are now up for grabs so that God may work. This impacts our family life, our work, our church life, and beyond into the community. It might even mean we even offer up the things we hold dearest about the way we do church so that others might feel welcome, accepted, and loved.
The generosity of God is found in the way we share who we are and the things we have…starting with how generously we love.
It costs everything because to choose the way of Jesus means we make decisions that prioritise the needs of others over our desires. Choosing the way of Jesus costs everything because it means we recognise that Christian community is not about me/us – it’s about all of us.
It costs everything because that’s what it means to be a follower of Jesus and choose the way of love every day.
In 2022, I encourage you to join me as we continue to make that choice. Every. Single. Day.
Molk is the Senior Field Officer (North) and Young Adult ministry lead as a part of the PULSE team.