What does your life revolve around? That is the question we need to ask but rarely do. It’s the time of year that we try to start new habits and new routines. For many Christians it’s the time of the year when they resolve to start trying to read the bible through in a year, or to copy Daniel’s 3 times a day prayer routine, or make promises about trying to make it out to the Bible study. None of those things are bad things. But here’s my issue with them, they are peripheral.
They are about shuffling routine and habits about so you can find more time to squeeze in doing something good. It makes reading the Bible and praying on a par with getting fitter, not eating so much fat or promising to let people see all of your face not just the edges around it as you are clued to your phone. It makes following Jesus about peripherals when it isn’t. When we do that we have missed something so fundamental to discipleship that it’s almost unfathomable. And I can’t help wondering if that’s a huge reason for the discipleship deficit we currently face in the west.
Jesus is not a habit or routine or part of life. No, following Jesus is making him the blazing sun at the centre of your life around which everything else orbits. It isn’t about lifestyle tweaks it is about everything being transformed in light of Jesus and his kingdom.
Discipleship is to live life following Jesus. In Matthew 16 Jesus summarises it as denying yourself, taking up your cross and following him. And he says those words after he has just explain that he must go to Jerusalem, be tried, convicted, suffer and die before rising again. Jesus whole life is headed inexorably towards the cross, his life revolves around that moment of staggering love and purpose which changes everything forever. To follow him means we must do that same. It means our whole life revolves around him, his mission, his kingdom. It isn’t a priority among many, it isn’t the most important priority. It is the sun around which our life orbits. Jesus is the centre of our life, our life is geared around him. That does mean we will spend more time in his word and more time praying and more time meeting with his people though for a very different reason than if we just settle for those things are resolutions. But it also means everything else changes, the way we parent, our relationship with friends and family, our conversations, our loves and lives. It revolution not resolution.
Because anything less than that simply isn’t discipleship. It’s not denying ourselves it’s denying Jesus. It’s not carrying our cross it’s seeking our comfort, and it’s not following him it’s following the patterns of the world and settling for a comfortable religion that doesn’t ask to much. How can we truly have understood the gospel of the God who gave everything for us if that’s the way we respond? If the best we give him is a few more squeezed moments in the early weeks of the year until things get too busy again. When what the gospel calls for, the only right response, is to make Jesus the centre, the sun, around which everything else orbits.