do you follow Jesus this close?

I was driving Cherry to school this morning and saw  ^ that ^ on a bumper sticker on the SUV in front of me. I rolled my eyes, and if I would’ve been alone in the car, I would’ve started ranting out loud.

Do I follow Jesus this close? Well, my first thought was yeah, yeah I do. I get right on his bumper so he knows I’m there, so he can feel me breathing down his neck, feel the pressure. And if he doesn’t go fast enough or if he puts on the brakes, I HONK REALLY LOUD and yell, C’MON!!!! JEEEZ!!!! (I think this is a friendly nickname for Jesus.)

And sadly, I’m not being sarcastic. I really do this. “C’MON, Jesus! What are you waiting for? When is this going to be OVER ALREADY!??! I DO NOT LIKE what you’ve got going on with my life right now. This is NOT WORKING FOR ME. Will you pleeeeeeeease HURRY UP?!? I don’t have all day!!!”

And then my thoughts changed course. And I wondered what the driver of the maroon Highlander meant by “following Jesus.” Because here’s the thing. I think we all have different ideas. And I feel like there’s a really good chance that my idea of following Jesus and Ms./Mr. Highlander’s idea might be slightly different (because I would never put that ridiculous bumper sticker on my car, for starters).

What does it mean to follow Jesus? To follow him close? (or closely, if you’re into proper grammar and all that)

Go to church? Wear Christian t-shirts and bumper stickers? Stay away from bad things (and bad people)? Forward all the “Forward This if You Love Jesus” posts on Facebook? Keep your language clean? Protest gay marriage any chance you get?

Is that following Jesus close?

Probably one good way to figure out this follow-Jesus-close thing is to open the Bible and read about Jesus.

His first recorded words were these: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

I love these verses. They’re my kind of verses. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’re not surprised.

And here comes the part of the post where I talk about how to reeeeeally follow Jesus you have to give away all your stuff and take care of the poor and move to Ethiopia or Myanmar.

Except not, because…

My friend, Krysten, and I were talking last night (she drove 45 minutes to my house after teaching 2nd graders all day–and brought pizza!), and we both admitted that we’ve been doing a not-so-hot job of loving the people who follow Jesus differently than we do. With all the loving the poor, fighting human trafficking, and what-have-you that we’ve been doing, we’ve caught ourselves looking down our noses with disdain at the people who “haven’t caught on yet.”

That’s not following Jesus close. It can’t be.

So, I’m going to keep on trying. To follow Jesus like I think he wants me to follow him, to inspire others to do it too, but to never, not ever, get all high-and-mighty about it.

Because that’s more obnoxious than a bumper sticker.

p.s. Anyone have a redonkulous bumper sticker to share?

7 thoughts on “do you follow Jesus this close?

  1. Sharon

    I was just thinking last night how I have a problem of looking down my nose at others sometimes. And I hate that about myself. I heard something recently (can’t remember exactly how it goes, but something like this) like that we tend to act like the people we spend the most time with. I have definitely noticed some changes in myself (for the worse) due to someone I spend a lot of time with.

  2. Jenn

    I think as long as we’re being obedient and willing to follow Christ no matter where He calls us to, we’re following Him closely. And what that means right now in this season may change in another season. I have some friends who spent the great majority of their career in a war-torn country as missionaries, truly living dangerously for the Gospel. Now, though, they’re serving in what looks to be a very cushy, comfortable pastorate in the US. It would be easy to look at what they did and assume a lot of things about how they’re not following God as passionately as they did before, but honestly? They’re doing just as much now where they’re at by firing people up to go serve and raising awareness for what’s going on in the world than they did when they were living from day to day wondering what would come next. (And God mercifully moved them exactly to their place now, knowing that health concerns and educational needs for their son would come up. He’s so good like that.)

    All that said, I really appreciate your honesty. It’s easy to look at people and make judgements about how they’re walking with God. And we’re only casting bigger judgement on ourselves when we do that because there’s no room for criticism when we know our own rightful places before God, right? You’re just braver than most of us because you’re willing to put here, in writing, that you do this. Don’t we all!

    (Oh, and I like that you write about these hard things. I know I sure do need to hear them!)

    1. valerie (in TX)

      Judy, very interesting article. I found myself alternately nodding in agreement and then saying, “Mmm, I don’t think so.” Food for thought, for sure. Thank you for sharing.

      And here’s my thought about the bumper sticker: Just like having that bumper sticker on your car doesn’t necessarily mean you are “following Jesus close”….I’m also not sure we can say it necessarily means you’re not. 🙂

      1. Marla Taviano

        I had the same reaction to the article, Valerie. And you’re so right about the bumper sticker. I think it just rubbed me the wrong way. Seems snarky. Like a Christian saying to a non-believer, “so you’re right up on my bumper with your road rage. Maybe you should be following Jesus!!” (and it’s entirely possible that the driver has a genuine heart for people and just wants them to know Christ)

    2. Marla Taviano

      Thanks for that link, Judy. I read it quickly last night and found myself doing what Valerie said below (alternating between nodding in agreement and then thinking, “hmmm… I don’t think so).

      And I just re-read it again now, more slowly, and there was a lot less nodding and a whole lot more disagreeing.

      Maybe I can share more of my thoughts later, but like it or not, Jesus really did call us to be radical. There might be a handful of verses that suggest being an “ordinary” Christian, but there are over 2000 that tell us to care for the poor, seek justice for the oppressed, take care of the orphan and widow, and on and on and on.

      My 2 cents.

  3. Krysten

    I love you, friend. So thankful to have friends like you who allow me to fail miserably, admit it out loud, then try to love a whole bunch better next time. Thanks for loving my mess and showing me a great example of how to follow Jesus close(ly!) even when you don’t think you’re doing that at all.

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