Coming To The Father

Jesus didn’t really say “believe in me.” What he said was “be like me.” (see the article below.)

He also said “you can do this, the same amazing stuff I do, even more amazing things than I do.”  There is only one very simple caveat. All that is necessary is to act like him. (John 14:12)   By the way, don’t get hung up on the “ask in my name” part.  (verse 13) That was added later by a timid scribe who couldn’t accept the straight-forward but demanding finality of verse 12. Again, all that’s necessary is that we be like him. Unfortunately–or more likely fortunately–he said nothing about it being any easier for us than it was for him.

Question: Is “coming to the father” worth it? Being crucified I mean.   Answer:  He thought so. Who am I to question him on that point?

Another question:

In your opinion, how many people who get away with calling themselves Christian are crucified for acting like Jesus did? Answer:  Not very many, at least those we know about. MLK comes to mind. Also Lincoln. And Bobby. And Archbishop Romero. Also Ghandi, who didn’t identify as Christian but certainly acted like the carpenter’s kid from Nazareth.

But let’s be honest, there are many who came “to the father” who were not assassinated in the traditional sense but no doubt died more painfully and/or sooner than they would have otherwise. I’m thinking here of people like Mother Theresa, William Sloan Coffin Jr., Thomas Merton.

 

Yes. But there are many others whose names are not in the history books; people who might not even have thought of themselves as Christian or even religious who fully qualify as having lived as Jesus lived. I know you know someone like that. I’m thinking here of a man I know, a card-carrying atheist, who hates me saying this but he is more like the itinerant evangelist Pilate had crucified than most Christians I know. 

 

Forgive me but I can’t, in good conscience not say something about the 99% of folks who identify as Christian who are anything but. Donald John Trump standing in front of the church holding up a Bible someone found for him comes to mind. Or better yet, Mike Pence. I’m sure he likes to think his refusing to do Trump’s bidding on January 6 solidifies his claim to his brand of Christianity. But no. That was a political decision, not a religious one. If he’d done as Jesus would have, he and the ahem, President, wouldn’t have exited the Oval Office 3 days later with big cheesy grins on their faces. What the hell Mike, Trump had chosen to watch the crazed mob screaming “hang Pence” while ignoring pleas that he go on TV and call off his minions!!!

If you want to know what got me thinking about all of this, here ‘tiz:

Christian
Some think of a Christian as one who necessarily believes certain things. That Jesus was the son of God, say. Or that Mary was a virgin. Or that the pope is infallible. Or that all other religions are all wrong.
 
Some think of a Christian as one who necessarily does certain things. Such as going to church. Getting baptized. Giving up liquor and tobacco. Reading the Bible. Doing a good deed a day.
 
Some think of a Christian as just a nice Nice Person.
 
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He didn’t say that any particular ethic, doctrine, or religion was the way, the truth, and the life. He said that he was. He didn’t say that it was by believing or doing anything in particular that you could “come to the Father.” He said that it was only by him—by living, participating in, being caught up by, the way of life that he embodied, that was his way.
 
Thus it is possible to be on Christ’s way and with his mark upon you without ever having heard of Christ, and for that reason to be on your way to God though maybe you don’t even believe in God.
 
A Christian is one who is on the way, though not necessarily very far along it, and who has at least some dim and half-baked idea of whom to thank.
 
A Christian isn’t necessarily any nicer than anybody else. Just better informed.
 
-Frederick Buechner in Wishful Thinking and in Beyond Words 

 
 
 

Comments

  1. Richard Alan Manhire says

    Brother John,
    Thanks for sending this writing. It’s the best thing I’ve read on being a follower of Christ—or whatever we call Him, or it, or nothing. If we live a certain way (the way Christ lived) we are doing life correct. This sounds like another “Actions speak louder than Words” situation. And, by the way, let us always be cautious about judging others, lest we not see the plank in our eye.

  2. Debra Davies says

    John,

    Thank you for this article. I appreciate your perspective and particularly liked the part about persons who, while not identifying as Christian, certainly are examples of contemporary Christ-like persons, those whose behaviors are similar to Jesus. Gandhi is an excellent example. It helps to broaden our perspective beyond “Christian” models to any person who exhibits similar behaviors.

  3. Cheryl Mohr Manhire says

    John, What a wonderful writing. You said it perfectly. For me it explains being a Christian better than anything else that I have read. Thank you!

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