this a lifestyle now and i don’t know what else to do

i don’t like to read. if i find a book that is interesting, i love reading and will finish it as quick as possible. if i find a book that i don’t like, i absolutely hate reading and will do anything to not read (aka school and intern development). with me, there’s no in between.

my favorite type of book is one that gets me to think. i don’t have to agree with you on everything, but if you get me thinking, i’m going to enjoy your book.

this weekend, i knocked out imaginary jesus by matt mikalatos. i started it on saturday and finished it on sunday. it was about how many of us end up forming jesus into this being that fits what we want or need and worship him rather than the real jesus. it’s an easy thing to do and i was challenged to look at areas where i did that.

while all of that was good, that’s not what intrigued me the most. there was one passage in the first part of the book that stuck out to me. it was written from the view of the apostle peter talking about jesus. in the scenes before this one, we had seen simon’s mother-in-law get healed (and cook dinner…yay food) and then saw jesus tell simon to cast his nets on the other side of the ship and then to come follow him. peter then said:

did you notice that in all y’shua’s teachings so far, he had never yet said, “i am the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the father but by me?” do you see that when i threw down my nets it had nothing to do with eternal life? i wanted to be like that man. pure and simple. i saw his life, not his future. i knew he was an amazing teacher and a person of power, but i didn’t know he was god. not yet. … even without the promise of eternal life, i gave up everything to follow him. i didn’t know him well. but i knew him well enough.

now, before we go any further, i know this was fiction. i know that peter never actually said that in the bible. that’s not the point. what was written in this book about the disciples following jesus was true. they didn’t follow him to get out of going to hell. they followed him because of who he was.

this whole thing really got me thinking. i love jesus. he’s in my life on an every day, hour to hour, minute to minute basis. i work for the guy. we’re pretty tight and we’re growing closer daily. with that being said, am i following him for who he is or am i following him because i don’t want to go to hell?

if you’re my age or older, you likely grew up with the hell fire and damnation preacher. “you need tah follow jesus-ah and repent of your sins-ah or you will spend eternity-ah in hell!!!” that’s what we were taught. many of us were scared into believing in jesus. would we have still decided to follow jesus if we just focused on who he was?

i’ve mentioned on here before that i’m doing a bible reading plan called chasing 99. its goal is to read the new testament in 99 days. i’m a little behind (okay, ten days is a more than little but shut up), but i’m really learning a lot. i’ve grown up in church and i’ve heard all of the stories, but reading through the gospels this time, for the last 50 days, has really showed me a different side of jesus.

the jesus that i’ve gotten to know over the last 50 days is one that i’m pretty sure i would’ve followed regardless of if he could’ve given me eternal life in heaven.

the jesus that i’ve gotten to know over the last 50 days is much different than the jesus i grew up knowing.

the jesus that i’ve gotten to know over the last 50 days wants a true relationship with me. he doesn’t want me to be scared of him.

so here’s my question: why do you follow jesus? is it because he’s your get out of hell free card? is it because you were told by your parents to? is it because you’re from the south and that’s what you’re supposed to do down here?

would you have given up your life to him even if he couldn’t give you eternal life?

it’s a tough question, but it’s one worth asking yourself.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

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3 thoughts on “this a lifestyle now and i don’t know what else to do

  1. Jonathan,

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I’m glad you liked Imaginary Jesus, and I love your thoughts here.

    I’d say for me, that yeah, when I started out as a Christian a lot of it was fire insurance. About the time I hit college I started to realize that wasn’t really enough for me… the promise of some distant reward after I die. So I went through a period of some real soul searching, and I realized what you talk about here… being in relationship with Jesus is so amazing, that’s really good enough for me. Although I will say I’m glad to get eternal life, too. Ha ha.

    Alright, man, thanks again for the awesome post. Look forward to seeing more of your thoughts in the future.

  2. yeah, the eternal life thing is a big bonus. i’m not saying it’d suck without it, but it’s a lot like bacon on a cheeseburger. the cheeseburger is great without it, but the bacon really sets it over the top.

    i want a bacon cheeseburger now. crap.

    anyways, thanks so much for commenting. i loved the book. i’ve told quite a few people about it. i’d love for it to become huge because it was great.

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