It is not adherents of a teaching but followers of a life that Christ is looking for.
It is a sobering reflection of his that I read this morning. He writes of the difference between being an admirer and being a follower of Christ. With an admirer, the connect is there in language and enthusiasm, but it does not permeate the life lived in the midst of the quotidian human reality. Things stay compartmentalized for a variety of reasons. He is careful to add that while good people are admirers of Jesus, there is an inherent separation when something or someone is admired.
The follower, however, is set on the conversion of self, on being suffused with the reality and not the ideal of the way Jesus was in this world and among his people.
[There] is absolutely nothing to admire in Jesus, unless you want to
admire poverty, misery, and contempt.
For me, though, I don't think we can truly Live without joy as well--that is part of the "life in abundance." I would like to read something of Kierkegaard's that brings that in too while also speaking to the challenge of steeping ourselves in the lived reality of our neighbors and seeking to help make manifest the longings of God for the world.
How clearly I remember the period of time when I began to close the gap of my own admiring distance...when I began to understand with my Being the invitation extended to me...to know what it is to truly Love and to allow Love to shape me, convert me over and again, time and again, world without end... and thus know greater freedom.
It takes energy to maintain a distance...energy that could be given to something or someone else. How much easier it is to breathe deeply when not quite as bound behind pain or hurt or fear; how much easier to offer understanding to another when I am more able to name and accept my own poverties of heart and spirit and yet know myself to be loved and able to express it; and how much it all makes me ache, sometimes...ache from laughing, ache from beauty, ache from a rending of my heart...
It is precisely this strength and ache and freedom all together that is for me what it means to be a follower of Jesus.