Following Jesus in the Twenty-first Century

Les Henson

Is following Jesus in the twenty-first century any different from following him in the first century? What remains the same, what are the unique challenges and differences that this era presents? These are the type of question that we must ask both individually and as a faith community, if we are to live faithfully in our generation. Yes, we must learn how to translate the scripture into the context of our day and to situations we encounter in our daily lives. So that we may both live-in and live-out of the biblical story that is to guides and empowers our lives. In a real sense following Jesus means living-in and living-out of the story that begins in Genesis in the garden and ends in Revelation with the New Jerusalem and the New Heavens and the New Earth. To do this, we must know the story and learn each day afresh how to indwell the story. Yet this is not enough for we must live-out the story in the context, mess and confusion that is our daily lives.

For us to follow Jesus is messy. There is no easy, nice neat way of doing so. The reality is that most of the discipleship methods or programs that we have used in the church for following Jesus are sterilised, formulaic and programmatic. Consequently, they have rarely been suitable for dealing with the mess, failure and confusion that permeate our daily lives. Examine the lives of the early disciples, and we also see failure, messiness and confusion. To pretend that we are any different is unrealistic. Much of the New Testament deals with the kind of mess and messiness that we encounter daily. If you don't believe me, just read Paul's letters to the young churches he helped establish. So, let us embrace the mess and amid the confusion learn afresh to follow Jesus as we seek to live-in and live-out of the story that energises our lives in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us also keep in mind that God is a gracious and loving God and that we are saved by grace, and if grace is not enough, then we are well and truly screwed. Yet grace is enough and even though there are times when the best we can do is to desire to be obedient, holy and Christlike amid the messiness of life in the twenty-first century.

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