Following Because Jesus has something for me?

I have been reading How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins. On page 77 and 78 Rollins is discussing the death and resurrection of Christ. He is supposing that many of us follow Christ not because Jesus lived a life that was worth emulating but because of what Jesus can do for us. Namely the eternal life that comes from belief in Jesus.

Without the closure of a resurrection, we would be presented with the unnerving question as to whether our love of Christ is really a love of ourselves, for it is at the foot of the cross that one may truly consider embracing Christianity without the comfort of thinking that such a giving of one’s life is also the means of gaining it back ( if one gives in order to receive, one does not really give at all but rather engages in an economic exchange). This provides the means of testing whether our faith is a gift by which we offer ourselves freely rather than an economy by which we negotiate a return.

That has made me think about why I follow Jesus. Was my conversion a way of escaping death or was it a true decision to follow with the thought of nothing in return? I want to say the latter. Even if it was not at the time I want it to be the selfless following with no thought of myself for the future.

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~ by curtismchale on October 29, 2007.

7 Responses to “Following Because Jesus has something for me?”

  1. Yes, this is an excellent point. I would say that most of us first come to Christ only for what we gain. If we truly follow Him, then I think we come to appreciate Him simply for Who He is, and we seek to do what we can to thank Him and honor Him in return.

    That has been the pattern for my life, anyway.

  2. I think that I am also in the same pattern, hence the post.

  3. I think that’s how it is for most people as people are extremely self motivated. I know that as a child, I became a Christian because of the promise of eternal life as opposed to the eternal consequence of hell.

    Also, thanks for the comment on my “slavery.” I’d get a tattoo… but I’m a chicken… so my earring will have to do.

  4. Yeah once you start getting tattoo’s they are addictive.

  5. I think you’ve hit on the essence of the flaw to Pascal’s wager. You can’t really believe something just so that you get something in return. If I ask you to believe in leprechauns so that I’ll give you a dollar, you can’t actually do it.

    It leads me to wonder if there’s some sort of useful thought experiment you can do on your faith. Imagine if Jesus had said that he could reveal nothing about what happens after you die. Would you still believe? Or is it somehow a contradiction to imagine Jesus saying something like that?

  6. Saul:

    I don’t believe that it is a contradiction to imagine that Jesus could reveal nothing about the afterlife. It would truly test whether we followed him for what we get or because we think that he is right.

  7. Is it possible that these motivations are both present in some sort of tension?

    Does God offer blessing and reward (“crowns”) for those that follow after him?

    Would I be a better Christian if I could say that I only follow Christ out of the duty that I have for him and because of his sacrifice?

    I too was motivated to embrace salvation at a young age as a way of escapism. I didn’t want to go hell and I wanted to be with Jesus forever. As I continue to mature in the faith I am learning more and more of what this really means. I am learning to embrace the dynamic nature of faith.

    It is a process.

    But I still don’t want to go to hell.

    And I still want to be with Jesus forever.

    The motivations for accepting the gift haven’t been dumped for some more spiritual reasons, rather they have been enhanced, deepened, and strengthened by these more spiritual reasons.

    No one really knows what they are getting into when they accept the gift of God. No one can truly fathom the experience of being in the FULL presence of God and to see our Savior face to face.

    Salvation is a gift that keeps on giving (and expecting).

    Salvation is a gift.

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