Tag Archive: followers of Jesus

this is something that my friend Deborah Dowlath reminded me in her simple blog post, A Drop in the Ocean which included this line:

I wish that followers of Christ would be as vocal about the injustices that occur on a daily basis as they are about the progress of their favourite team.

and this passage:

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

i think what strikes me the most is that i hadn’t thought of it this World Cup yet until i read her post.

it is something that has bothered me a lot.

and maybe, for a moment – which has passed, thankfully – i gave up on being bummed by it, because what is the point…


# when a new Star Wars movie comes out, people line the blocks for miles sleeping outside, sometimes for days, to get a ticket.

# when your favourite band is in town, you will pay an exhorbitant amount of money for a ticket to a live show.

# last night my mind wandered to the place of trying to imagine – i had no chance – just how much money was spent on fireworks in the Oakland area alone, let alone the United States of Americaland or the world… hm, let me see if Uncle Google has anything on that… [according to Eric Dye over here, it is over $600 million spent on one day’s entertainment although with the conscience-easing quote of ‘You wouldn’t ask Michelangelo how many buckets of paint he used to paint the Sistene Chapel, would you?’ but ending with the more provocative question:

With a nation in debt and a world full of needs, it makes you question the wisdom of burning-up $600 million in one day, doesn’t it?

# don’t get me started on how i get ‘attacked’ on social media [usually by christian friends] for daring to suggest how ridiculous it is to me that football/soccer players are paid millions of dollars in transfer fees [which you can translate to $20 million for an actor to star in a movie or whatever it is singers, politicians, business owners take home]


i totally believe there is a moral question in here for everyone to be asking, and if we are looking at redressing the balance of the world where [small percentage] of the people own [ludicrous] percentage of the stuff, this would be a good place to start.

but specifically for people claiming to follow the ways of Jesus, this feels like an even deeper, more pertinent question not too many people seem to be asking, or answering.

i remember a few years ago when i helped organise a New Year’s Worship event at a megachurch building in Cape Town where we were hoping to have thousands of Christ followers from around the city coming together to worship God into the new year – and we did. i was purposeful about letting the countdown into the new year take back stage [or no stage at all if i’d had my way] so that we could focus on what really mattered. but somehow it still happened and i remember being broken by the fact that 2 to 3 thousand people seemed more excited about counting backwards from 10 than they were about worshiping the Creator of the Universe and Saviour of their lives.

one of the main reasons we were not allowed to use the same church the following year and the only complaint we received from the church leadership [most, if not all, who had not been at the event] was that we didn’t give the New Year’s countdown a big enough focus. It is clearly important that people are given the best opportunity available to count backwards from ten.


then surely this picture would look different.

if we truly believed that there is a God, who created the Universe in a moment [or a million years of moments] who came down to earth and lived among us to save us from ourselves and that this God desired to have intimate and profound world-transoforming relationship with us and involve us in the redeeming of this planet and this people, then surely we would be inspired to do a little bit more than simply attend a meeting once a week and throw the excess money we have in our wallet into the bowl out of guilt as it passes us by.

if we love God more than the Football World Cup.

if we love God more than Star Wars.

if we love God more than U2 or Mumford or The Smashing Pumpkins or One Direction or Beyonce.

if we love God more than J.K.Rowling or Johnny Depp or Lionel Messi or Manchester United.

if we love God more than fireworks and Christmas presents and turkey and chocolate eggs and bunnies.

if we love God more than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube or Pinterest.

then surely, surely, SURELY, things would look different. things would be different.

because clearly we are so much more excited about SO MUCH OTHER STUFF.

does that mean we don’t really believe?

or that we simply see the God part of our lives as significantly less of a priority and focus than a bunch of other things?

“let the person who has no sin cast the first stone.”

i definitely am not without sin here. i HAVE to start this question by asking it to myself. and it is one i wrestle with.

having just returned from a week of speaking to young people about Jesus on houseboats on Lake Shasta, i can definitely say with no doubt that speaking to people about Jesus and writing about Him is one of the things that gives me the greatest joy and feeling of life in life. so passion for God and the things of God is definitely up there.

but there are definitely many areas where my excitement and passion for other things is out of sync and definitely a lot of time spent on things that could be spent on better things. definitely a lot in my life needing to be wrestled with and some changes to be made.

one question i am hoping to better figure out after our next transition [coming August 6th] when we move back to South Africa is which of the ‘least of these’ i should be engaging more with. that feels like a call that has been placed on all of us and something most of us could be more intentional about.

what about you? i would LOVE to hear some feedback on this one based on what you see when you look into the mirror. are you doing well? is this an area that needs some more attention from you? what is your response to the idea that we tend to give so many other things so much more focus, attention and out-of-control passionate support and celebration?

and what does this verse mean to you?

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.



‘All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.’ [Jesus Christ, Matthew 10.22 with similiar renditions in Luke 21.17 and Mark 13.13

But what does that mean? Well, for starters, i guess it might mean that if no-one at all hates you, you just might be doing it wrong.

I think what Jesus was meaning by that statement was that the message i am about to give you and the lifestyle I will demonstrate for you is so different and so subversive and so completely upside-down from what you are used to, that a lot of people will not understand and many people will respond in confusion and anger, and some may even want to kill you.

A little bit of a problem if you are blending in so well with those around you that no-one even notices you are different.

But ‘hate’ is so strong, so let’s take it down a notch:

# Jesus was betrayed, denied, abandoned, judged, accused of something He didn’t do, deserted and crucified [one of the most painful deaths known to man]

# Paul was beaten, stoned, judged, shipwrecked, lashed, accused of being something he wasn’t and eventually killed

# 10 of Jesus’ 12 disciples were martyred for their faith [Judas killed himself and John died of old age but amongst the others it is believed they included death by being thrown off the temple, flayed alive and crucified upside-down, stabbing, being sawn in half and being clubbed to death.

Early Christians were covered in tar and set on fire for the amusement of Nero [or to be human candles at his parties], they were dragged behind chariots until dead, they were tied in leather bags and thrown in water so that they were squeezed to death and they were fed to the lions and other beasts at the Roman circus.

and don’t get me started on the Old Testament…

since almost everyone throughout the Bible lived lives that don’t appear when you type ‘comfortable’ and ‘people in the Bible’ into Uncle Google, with Jesus preaching that if you live a life that is modeled on his words and teaching that you will not be popular and since the actual lives of those professing faith in Jesus throughout the early history of the church looked remarkably uncomfortable, at risk, revolutionary, difficult and challenging, it AMAZES ME how so much of the western church today can arrive at a Christianity that looks very much comfortable, easy, non-threatening, acceptable [to those outside of the church] and not really all that subversive at all.

could this be linked to the fact that so many of us are not reading the bible any more but simply listening to the words of teachers who say things we agree with?

could this be because many of us have run out of steam and exchanged the change-the-world passion we once exhuded so brightly for settling and comfort?

could this be because the stories of those actively living lives that look a lot more like Jesus are being pushed to the side while the noise of the popular preacher takes centre stage?

and more.

the good news is that it is never too late to change.

the world is crying out for an authentic church that flies in the face of conventional assimilation and actually knows, believes and lives out the words of Jesus.

[altho be warned – all men might hate you if you do… but that might be a sign that you are close to being on the right track again]

[and i should add the disclaimer that being hated by everyone doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing it right – it could just mean you’re a jerk – looking at you Westboro! – so you’re looking for the combination of following Jesus and not being particularly loved by everyone]

if your Christianity is easy, chances are strong that you could be doing it wrong. it seldom was for Jesus and He came to show us how perfectly this thing could be done.

‘Then Jesus said, if anyone wants to follow Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’ [Luke 9.23]

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