Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Know, Love, Follow Jesus

In which I draft a summary of a meeting before it has taken place!

From The Rectory

On Thursday 6th October, a number of us met in the Old School in Dallington to discuss what it might mean to “Know, Love and Follow Jesus” and how we might do so. I’m grateful to Mike for taking a lead in organising this valuable evening, to those who came, and helped, and contributed to an interesting discussion.

The phrase “Know, Love and Follow Jesus” is what might be called the Diocesan slogan which has emerged from the 2015-2020 Diocesan Strategy. It echoes the Prayer of St Richard of Chichester (who was Bishop in the mid-13th Century):

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

We can certainly know of the existence of Jesus from non-Christian historical sources. But we can know little about him. We depend on the Bible to know Jesus. He said that the Scriptures testify to him and that their purpose is that we might come to him and have life. He said that if his contemporaries would not believe on the basis of what Moses had written about him in the Bible, they would not believe even if someone were to rise from the dead – which of course Our Lord went on to do. The Apostle Paul, writing in Scripture, claims that all of the biblical writings are inspired by God and are able to make us wise for salvation through Jesus Christ.

By reading the Scriptures we actually meet with Jesus. The Bible is God speaking to us. Jesus is not a dead hero whom we learn about but our living Lord whom we encounter. The Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus today. Believers are even said to be “in Christ”. Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. The church is Jesus’ body – we are members of him.

Knowing Jesus naturally leads to loving Jesus – because he is so lovely, so lovable. There are many reasons to love Jesus. Who his what. What he has done for us. Our love for him flows from his love for us, which was supremely demonstrated at the cross. Out of love, The King of Love died for loveless sinners like you and me. His love for us is utterly undeserved and entirely unreserved. And we owe him an infinite debt of love.

Jesus said that the first and most important commandment is to love God. And Jesus is God the Son, God come in the flesh. He also taught that it is those who realise they have been forgiven much who will love much.

Love for Jesus (whom we cannot see) will often be demonstrated by love for others (who we can see). That is part of what it means to follow Jesus – to seek to love our neighbour as ourself, as he alone did perfectly.  

Jesus asks his disciples to go the same way he went, the way of the cross, of self-sacrifice, of forgetting about ourselves and focussing on God and others. With Jesus’ help we seek to say “no” to our own selfish desires so that we might say “yes” to Him. Ironically it is as we do so that we find our true selves – the fulfilment in Christ for which we were created.

 The task of knowing, loving and following Jesus is never finished. It is an invitation to a life-long adventure. May we know him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly, day by day. Amen.

The Revd Marc Lloyd

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