It seems to me that if following Jesus really is the best life… if it genuinely is the way life is meant to be lived… then it should impact and positively influence every aspect of our lives. After all, any other kind of faith would be superficial or compartmentalised. Not only would that be dissatisfying, it would also be unattractive to others. I mean, who’d want a faith like that?
That’s part of the reason why I’ve written the book A-Z of Discipleship (to be published on 1st July by Authentic). I want those who are new Christ-followers (or those thinking about starting, or those wanting to go back to basics) to see just this – that discipleship is about the whole of life. There’s no sacred/secular divide. God’s interested in everything! And his Kingdom, into which we’re called, has no boundaries. That’s why Jesus happily spent time with all sorts of people: women and men; poor and rich; healthy and sick; politicians and farmers; straight-laced religious legalists and people in the sex industry. Being a disciple affects everything. Absolutely everything. Which is why it’s such an exciting adventure!
So let’s have none of this idea that following Jesus is just about being ‘religious’ for a few hours a week or about tagging ‘faith’ onto life to make us feel a little bit more fulfilled. Such thinking misses the whole point. No, discipleship is about a life-integrating, life-embracing, life-long journey of following Jesus.
I was recently reading Eugene Peterson’s description of the role of the prophetic books in the bible. Peterson’s words helpfully show God’s interest in all of life and so can be applied more widely to the life of discipleship. Followers of Jesus would be wise to take note.
One of the bad habits we pick up early in our lives is separating things and people into secular and sacred. We assume the secular is what we are more of less in charge of: our jobs, our time, our entertainment, our government, our social relations. The sacred is what God is in charge of: worship and the Bible, heaven and hell, church and prayers. We then contrive to set aside a sacred place for God, designed, we say, to honour God but really intended to keep God in his place, leaving us free to have the final say about everything else that goes on.
Prophets will have none of this. They contend that everything, absolutely everything, takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives: the way we feel and act in the so-called privacy of our hearts and homes, the way we make our money and the way we spend it, the politics we embrace, the wars we fight, the catastrophes we endure, the people we hurt, and the people we help. Nothing is hidden from the scrutiny of God. Nothing is exempt from the rule of God. Nothing escapes the purposes of God. Holy, holy, holy.
Following Jesus is about life. The whole of life. For life.