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, phishing attacks, and robocalls.
When it comes to Christianity, there also sure seems to be too many notes — hobbies, quarrels, denominations, scandals, embarrassments, politics, and irrelevant discussions about our preferences — while our world devolves into an ever greater mess that surrounds us. What Christianity often portrays to the world is a bunch of squabbling, narrow-minded, and entitled groups that relish majoring in minors. On top of everything else, many end up branding those with whom they disagree calling them hypocrites, heretics, and those hell-bent on destruction. For outsiders, there are simply too many notes!
We forget the words of Jesus, words of gentle correction to Martha as she chided her sister, Mary, for sitting at the Lord's feet:
"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).
Mary had found her "defining note" — that one thing that mattered most — and would not chase after the noise that surrounded her.
The New Testament points us to one person. Jesus 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 him. 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 will choose to become more like Jesus each day. We will choose to reflect his gracious compassion and righteous character in our daily lives. We will choose to learn and obey faithfully what he teaches. We will 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 calls 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!
Today, Jesus is still calling people to follow him in the way of discipleship. We hope you will choose to join us as we encourage each other to follow Jesus.