When you become a follower of Christ, you are signing up for something that is more like a marathon than a 100-yard sprint. Friedrich Nietzsche, who was no friend of Christianity, demonstrated real wisdom in the following statement: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is ……. that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” This goes against the grain of today’s world which seems driven by instant gratification and instant results.
Christians Are Life-Long Learners And Pilgrims
Eugene Peterson, the great Christian author and Pastor, makes a perceptive statement when he says: “In going against the stream of the world’s ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim.” ‘Disciple’ signifies that we are life-long apprentices of our Master, Jesus. We are life-long learners who enter the classroom of life with the risen Christ. As Peterson so aptly puts it, “we do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.” It takes a long time as well as real intentionality on our part in order to become a mature disciple of Christ.
We are not tourists in our following of Jesus or butterflies who flit from one flower to another. No, we are pilgrims who spend all their years on this earth going someplace, “going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ” (Peterson). We realize, like Abraham, that “this world is not my home” and we our on pilgrimage to our Father’s house.
Going Against The Grain Of Popular Culture
It takes time to learn to trust the Lord with all of our heart and to acknowledge Him in all areas of our life (Proverbs 3:5,6). It doesn’t come instantly. The Lord isn’t interested in superficial disciples whose faith and love for him are shallow. He wants people who are willing to be changed from the inside out in order to conform to Jesus’ character. His desire is for us to know not only in our head that He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides, but to know it in our experience.
The calling of the Church of the Nazarene, as well as all Christian churches, is to form Christ-like followers through the patient teaching and preaching of God’s Word. And not only in larger worship gatherings, but also in smaller gatherings, like Sunday School and home groups. This deep spiritual formation also occurs through persistent prayer and consistent fellowship. It happens through the regular spiritual practise of confessing one’s sins to the Lord.
These practices do not seem too glamorous and definitely go against the grain of our quick-paced and self-absorbed culture. But as Nietzsche wrote, in heaven and earth, it has always been a “long obedience” in the same direction that has resulted in a life worth living. How especially true that is for the Christian who follows the One who has defeated death, and the One before whom everyone in the universe will one day bow and confess “He is Lord”.
QOTD: Are you faithfully engaged in a long obedience in the same direction as you follow Christ, the Lord?