Source: Huffington Post
Despite the fact I am a secular person, I find that there is something compelling and transformative about the figure of Jesus — that, indeed, this figure is someone worth following. Here are five important ways in which I continue to reshape my approach to life as part of a deepening commitment to being a secular Jesus follower.
1. I have been inspired to hang out with the “wrong” people.
Jesus hung out with the wrong people. He ate meals, engaging in acts of intimate community, with people who were anathema to the pious of his place and time. Touching the despised “other,” whether by handshake or conversation, whether by extending friendship or learning what it’s like to walk in that person’s shoes can have a profoundly positive effect on that person and the wider world. And on you.
As I have striven to make the Jesus way my way, I have benefited tremendously from my warm interactions with people who are not my tribe or group: Muslims, African Americans, LGBT people, and so on.
Perhaps my most flagrant “transgression” in this regard is my engaging seriously with the figure of Jesus, who would seem off limits to a nonbeliever like me, who is deeply bound up with a Christendom that is not my world—but whose wisdom and way offer far too much to remain confined behind a culturally imposed boundary.
2. I have become cognizant of the futility of violence.
Examining our world through a Jesus lens, I see that violence alone does not yield the sustaining solutions it promises. Following Jesus, I am continually committing to a philosophy that regards violence as an absolute last resort, understanding that it invariably perpetuates the very problem it ostensibly aims to solve; namely, violence.
Through a Jesus lens, I see that violence alone does not yield sustaining solutions Jesus showed and shared great wisdom on this score — wisdom that remains highly applicable today. When the soldiers came to arrest him and his disciple unsheathed his sword to fight, Jesus told him to put it away, uttering the famous words, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” Lest we dismiss this nonviolence as hopelessly futile and quixotic, let’s remember the impact nonviolent Jesus has had on history. Let’s recall how nonviolence has moved mountains, figuratively speaking, when deployed by people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s remember the futility of violence stopping violence in the place where violence always starts: in the human heart.
3. I have been persuaded to worry less, trust more.
Ours is an anxious age. National decline, enemies poised to kill us, supposed friends and partners keen to put one over on us — we have these and more to keep us on high alert, we’re told, not to mention those pesky personal matters like our finances, relationships, health and status. So much to worry about!
Jesus taught that we should take a breath and be calm. In one memorable Bible story, Jesus and the disciples are traveling by boat when they are hit by a raucous storm. The boat is tossed violently. Yet Jesus, as if to practice what he preaches, sleeps — yes, sleeps. When he finally wakes, he calms the squall that’s been blowing on the sea and in his followers’ hearts.