We had a reading yesterday in church of an excerpt from Kierkegaard on the topic of being a follower of Christ and not merely an admirer. This is a subject that frequently weighs on my mind. Quite often I suspect that most of Christianity has contented itself with a pale, bourgeois idea of what it means to be a follower of Christ. We'll do (or at least say we'll do) whatever can reasonably be expected to fit into a standard 21st century American life, but certainly no more. We don't want to be religious fanatics, after all. But weren't Jesus and his disciples religious fanatics?
The danger, I think, is that when most of us want to be more religious, we think in terms of being more strictly moral. I'd be the first to agree that moral fanaticism is an awful thing. But that's not what I see when I look at the life of Jesus.
What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? How do I do that in my life? Do I live the way Jesus would live if he were an upper-middle class American software engineer with a wife and two daughters? Or is that already a contradiction?
Paul says somewhere that we're to live out the life we had when we were called to be Christians, so I think that means the wife and kids can stay (lucky for me!) and probably the job I have too. But from there it's so easy to slide all the pieces of my life back into place from my spending habits to what I do with my free time. What if Jesus were an upper-middle class American software engineer with a wife and two daughters who wasn't terribly financially responsible and spent all his free time riding a bicycle or watching TV?
Part of my problem is ADD. I'm immobilized by big tasks. I don't know where to start. This weekend I had to pack all the junk in my garage. I began by standing out there for a while feeling overwhelmed, not knowing where to start. But this is something I've been working on recently, so eventually it clicked -- pick something up and put it in a box.
And I guess that's what I need to do with following Christ. I'm not likely to strip naked and change my entire life in an instant the way St. Francis did. For me, I think, it's going to require listening for Jesus' call and doing one thing. I'm not satisfied with where that gets me, but at least it gets me somewhere.