The Great Adventure - Ethan Miller
Ethan writes a challenging article asking us to question the way we love others. He tells the story of his dad and how his acts of love continue to inspire him to live out what Jesus said.
Recently I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks while I drive. One of my new favourite authors is a guy called Bob Goff who writes Love does and Everybody Always. Both books contain stories about Bob’s life which illustrate some sort of life lesson. These anecdotes are full of adventure, humour, kindness and love that draw you in and leave you wanting to read more.
But more than that, each chapter reminds you of what God can do through us if we are willing to do life with Him.
I’ve been attending Church and doing faith for most of my life, but I think I’m still only really learning what it means to follow Jesus. By this, I’m not saying that I don’t know how to pray or read scripture or serve or understand theology. I’m a Pastor, it’s my job to teach these things. Rather I mean that I’m still learning to see, hear and act like Jesus does.
Faith is an adventure
Faith is about much more than attending Church, having good morals, doing the basics (praying, reading Scripture etc) and being a decent human being. It’s an okay start, but it will likely get a little bland after a while. Rather faith is an adventure with God, who is actively drawing people to Himself and slowly redeeming the world we live in.
The reason I love Bob’s books so much is that he is just trying to follow Jesus as best he can, by simply doing what Jesus commanded literally. As a result of this, he has lived an incredible life that people find so interesting that they read about it. But what if instead of just reading about it, we actually chose to follow Jesus in the same way? What if we all did exactly what Jesus said?
It sounds sort of stupid because we talk about what Jesus said all the time. But when was the last time you fed someone who was hungry? When was the last time you visited someone in prison? Who was the last stranger you welcomed in? Who was the last person you clothed?
Jesus calls us to love everyone
Jesus doesn’t just call us to love people. Anyone can do that. Rather, Jesus calls us to love everyone, including those who no one else is loving because they are difficult. It’s not always going to be fun. It might even blow up in your face every now and then. But it will definitely make your life a little more interesting.
My dad is a lot like this. He is far from perfect and I struggled growing up with him at times, but I think I’ve met very few people who would do as much for the least as my dad would. Although he is 65 with bad health, in hospital for about a quarter of the year on average, he is always getting besides those who many have given up on. He has had a prostitute, ex-gang members, alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless people, immigrants and many more live under his roof.
Jesus doesn’t just call us to love people. Anyone can do that. Rather, Jesus calls us to love everyone, including those who no one else is loving because they are difficult.
For him this isn’t anything extraordinary, rather he sees it as the norm. It’s just part of following Jesus.
Last year I remember him telling me this story about one of his tenants who was recently out of prison. My dad was sitting in the living room with this guy and he saw that his toe nails were so over grown that they curved around his toes. My dad asked why he hadn’t cut his toe nails and he said that he couldn’t.
My dad asked why not and his tenant replied “I can’t reach them.” My dad then proceeded to take him to the garage and told him to sit down. He got out a grinder and grinded back this man’s toe nails.
As he finished, this big tough man began to cry. My dad asked if he was alright, to which the man replied “No one has ever cared about me enough to do something like this.” My dad went on to tell him about the love of Jesus and the different way of life that he has for us.
Every time my dad tells me stories like this, tears stream down his face. The Holy Spirit isn’t just working through my dad, he is working in Him. He experiences as much joy, hope and love than he offers others.
The beautiful thing about a life with Jesus is that we get back as much as we give. Not material things, or wealth, or even good health, but rather we get to experience God at work in the lives of others.
Jesus wants us to join Him on an adventure, are you willing to join Him?
Ethan grew up in Mt Roskill, Auckland. While finishing a degree in applied theology from Carey Baptist College, he moved slightly east and began working as a pastor at Eastview Baptist Church, where he worked for three and a half years. He is currently in a new role as Youth and Youth Adults Pastor at Windsor Park Baptist Church. He loves getting out in nature, having a laugh and having deep conversations about life and faith. // Photo: Kirstyn J. Paynter
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