For most things in life today, however, the Emperor's critique fits all too perfectly. Our daily world serves us an overabundance of notes, choices, opinions, features, processes, emails, advertisements, interruptions, unsolicited calls, messages, and tweets. We are drowning in information. We are saturated by experiences. We are bombarded with all sorts of SPAM, data mining schemes, and phishing attacks.
When it comes to Christianity, there also sure seems to be too many notes — hobbies, quarrels, denominations, and irrelevant discussions about our preferences — while our world devolves into the mess that surrounds us. What Christianity portrays to the world is a bunch of squabbling, narrow-minded, and entitled groups that relish majoring in minors, then branding those who disagree with them as hypocrites or heretics or hell-bent for destruction. We forget the words of Jesus to Martha as she chided Mary for sitting at the Lord's feet as one of his students instead of helping her serve in a more accepted way:
"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42 ESV).
The New Testament points us to one person. He is the defining note of our faith. All other notes find their meaning, their relevance, their importance, their place in God's symphony of grace, around this defining note: Jesus. Our goal is to tune our lives to him.
Jesus said it this way:
The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like [his or her] teacher (Luke 6:40).
The apostle Paul said it multiple times:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me (Colossians 1:28-29).
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you... (Galatians 4:19).
Paul even reminded us that this was the goal of the Holy Spirit's work in us:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [and reflect] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
When we choose to follow Jesus, to become his disciple, we are choosing to become like our Teacher, our Savior, and our Lord. We are choosing to commit our lives to becoming like Jesus.
To be called by Jesus and to get to follow him as his disciple is an honor, a gift of grace. James Nored reminds us of Jesus' call on our lives in today's video:
Now the real question for each of us is this: "Will I choose to follow Jesus and be his disciple?"
If we say, "Yes!" to this great invitation, then there will be a singularity of focus to our lives. We choose to become more like Jesus each day. We choose to reflect his gracious compassion and righteous character in our daily lives. We choose to learn and obey what he teaches. We choose to treat people as he did, not as our flesh wants to react toward them or as those around us do. As Jesus demonstrated with his life and called us to do as his disciples with his last words (Matthew 28:18-20), we will be open to all people so that we can help them follow him and become his disciples, too!
For questions for discussion and reflection, see the downloadable lesson guide with the embedded video.