Sunday’s Scripture – September 26, 2021
In recent weeks, we’ve been considering what it means to “follow Jesus.” First, Jesus does not force us to follow him; he invites us. We get to decide who and what to follow, but we follow Jesus on his terms. The call is simple, but costly. It means we must give up our right to ourselves. But it also means true life. (Mark 8:27-38). Second, following Jesus means that we will bring someone else along with us. Perhaps we follow Jesus because someone else brought us. (John 1:35-51)
This week, we’ll consider how Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 4:11-16 shed light on what it means to follow Jesus.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is known as The Shema. It is one of the most important prayers in the Old Testament. It was given to the Israelites as instruction and a reminder about what it meant to follow Yahweh, the One True God. From the Shema, we see that following Jesus looks like loving God with our whole selves. Indeed, loving God more than we love ourselves.
Additionally, if the Israelites were going to survive, it meant that they would maintain their distinctiveness among the pagan nations around them and that they would succeed in handing faith down to their children. To this end, the Shema was also a tool. It’s why they were instructed to keep the commandments in their hearts, to recite them to their children, to talk about them everywhere, and to post them in visual places.
The Church, too, has a unique call to be set apart and a unique culture to live out. Not in a prideful way; just a distinct way. Following Jesus looks like embracing this peculiarity. And it looks like discipling the next generation.
But to do this faithfully, we need each other! Ephesians 4:11-16, instructs us to embrace our role in Christ’s body, known as the Church. Sticking together in this way, “joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped,” is the only way we’ll be united in faith and thus maintain our peculiarity. It’s the only way we’ll disciple our children into adults who are able to withstand the winds of false doctrine. Ultimately, it’s how the Church will grow into the full measure of the stature of Christ. As we “follow Jesus,” we don’t go it alone.
- What Scripture do you need to write on your heart by reciting it and posting it where it will be seen often?
- What is your role in the body of Christ? How can you lean into that more fully so as to build up the body of Christ?
- What are the peculiarities of God’s Church today? How can you embrace them?