Well but Bill, you’re saying. Or you’re thinking. What in the Sam Hill are we Christians doing, anyway? What’s going on in that beady little brain of yours? Where are you going with all this pastor bashing and Christ-likeness bashing? What in the heck do you think you’re doing, for crying out sideways!
Okay, so here’s where I’m going. It’s not about you or me. It’s not about us. It’s not about the mystic believer priests. It’s not about the pastors, ministers, and priests. And it’s not about the theologians, biblical scholars, and religious writers.
This is not a narcissistic exercise. This is not a moral exercise. Conduct is not the focus of Jesus’s concern, and it should not be ours. If it were his focus, forgiveness and grace and acceptance of the tax collectors and the prostitutes and the thieves at his table would not be Jesus’s thing. His approach. He’d be a Pharisee if moral rectitude and concern with moral conduct were his focus.
Moral rectitude and moral improvement of oneself is a narcissistic activity. A narcissistic motive. A self-centric view of one’s role as a Christian is narcissistic. And narcissism is mistaken, off the mark. It leads to hubris. To grandiosity. To pride and arrogance. To cruelty. To callousness toward others. And away from humility. Away from service. Away from generosity.
Jesus directs us toward him, through the participation and activity of the Holy Spirit. And he directs us toward others.
Love God and love your neighbors. He doesn’t say love yourself.
So. What does being a follower of Jesus mean? It means first doing what he asks. It means listening to the Counselor. Doing what the Counselor asks. Following the lead of the Counselor, who is God in us. God among us. God with us.
It means doing what he asks in the Gospels.
It means the Isaiah charter. It means caring for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the demonized.
It means spreading the Gospel by engaging the help of the Holy Spirit.
It means opening our hearts to the activity and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to have his way with us.
There is nothing more exciting than the Holy Spirit’s presence. There’s nothing more thrilling than being urged in one direction or the other by the Holy Spirit and to find oneself actually doing what one has been asked to do.
We will never be like Christ. But we can do what he asked us to do. We can find ourselves inhabited by the Holy Spirit. We can experience God’s presence in us, all around us, in others, in what we do.
So what is our job as Christians, according to my particular understanding of the Gospels and of the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Our job is to do what Jesus asked in the Gospels. And to seek the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance. And to do what the Holy Spirit asks.