Are We Memorizers or Followers?

Did Jesus want us to actually do what He said or just memorize Him?

We make knowledge the goal these days. Know more verses. Read more books. Listen to more sermons. That’s how we measure ourselves, by how much we know. Those things are great and I’m not staying stop doing them. Knowledge is absolutely vital, but knowledge isn’t the goal.

David, Bill, and I spent the weekend in San Antonio with a friend of a friend who started an awesome church-planting network. Not even freezing rain or Baylor getting blown out put a damper on this weekend, because what we learned from Chuck and Jake rocked our world. The training packet didn’t have any big words that I didn’t understand. We didn’t probe the depths of Ephesians with an inductive Bible study. No, the take-home from the weekend much simpler than that: Do what Jesus commanded. 

Here at Baylor, we tend to drift towards a Christianity that says “it’s about me.” I’m as bad as anybody with this. I think that it’s about me reading more books or memorizing more verses. Just go to another Bible study or worship night, Vince, as if that was the measure of being a disciple: know more, be smarter, show up at more things.

Who cares how many Piper books I read? Who cares how many blogs I write? Who cares how many Bible studies I go to? I’d feel kind of ridiculous sitting at the foot of God’s throne and telling Jesus all the facts I know about Him. It would seem kind of silly to spout of attendance statistics or book lists or reading plans.

Please don’t misinterpret me here. Bible studies are great, I really like John Piper books, and reading and memorizing the Word of God is incredibly important. These things inform us and sharpen us and guide us. But they aren’t the point. 

It’s about actually doing what Jesus commands us to do.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15

Francis Chan puts it better than I can in this video.

If Jesus said it, we think we don’t actually have to do it, we just have to memorize it. -Francis Chan

A Letter from a CL

I printed this letter off and gave it to my thirty residents a couple of months ago. I wrote it for them but I’m sharing it because I think it applies just as much to you and me today as it does to any college freshman. We need to take our insecurities, lay them at the foot of the cross, and dwell on His sufficient grace every single day. Love-of-Christ

To my residents,

You’re just over two weeks into what will probably be the most important year of your life. I don’t mean to exaggerate. This is the year that you are going to answer the questions that matter. You won’t figure out all of the specifics such as what you want to do with your life or whom you’ll marry, but you’ll answer the big questions, the ones that you really can’t avoid like Who are you? Why are you here? Do you belong?

And then there’s one question that seems to come before all those ones. You’ll be trying to answer it in every classroom, at every rush event, and on every date. To get into the group or get the A or get the girl, do you have what it takes?

During my freshman year, I couldn’t go to the gym or the dining hall or even Church without feeling the need to look good or come off as funny or be liked. I was trying to prove to others that I mattered and I belonged and I had what it takes. And a lot of times it worked. The guys laughed at my jokes, the girl texted back, and the rush chair told me I was in. A big part of me lived for the approval of others, for people saying “hey you’re smart” or “hey you’re cute” or even “Hey you really love Jesus.” I looked to people around me to determine my value and my worth. But here was the problem. No matter what they said or how much I succeeded in winning their approval, trying to find my identity in girls or groups or grades left me empty. Finally I quit. I quit asking people around me if I had what it takes. The only person who could answer that question was my Creator.

So I asked the question to God. Do I have what it takes? Here’s what He said:

Vince, you’re messy and sinful and broken and you spend your days trying to hide that from everybody you know. But here’s what I want you to know. My Son took care of it. He came to Earth, lived the perfect life you never could, hung on a cross for your sins, and rose again. You don’t have what it takes, not even close. But He did. And I want you. I want your heart. I want you to find your identity in me. I’ll cover your sins and clean up your messes. Just come follow me.

And here’s the deal. I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t hear this from some big booming voice in the sky. God told me this through an incredible Church that preaches Jesus every week. He told me through friends who loved me enough to point me to Jesus when I would try to find my identity in them. And He told me through the Bible, His love letter to you and me.

So here’s what I’ll leave you with. First off, know that I’m here for you. I’m living here because I love you guys and want to see you become who God made you to be. If you ever want to talk, you know where my door is. Second, I think that what Jesus has done for us changes EVERYTHING about the question of “Do I have what it takes?” Learn from my mistake, Don’t look to others to determine your worth. Look to our God. His grace is sufficient.

Your CL,

Vince