Monday, May 5, 2014

Following Jesus: A Set of Lists

Jesus is my hero, my one and only, the guy in my life.
There are many others I love and exemplify:
Francis of Assisi
Dorothy Day
Jean Vanier
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Peter Waldo
Desmond Tutu
Keith Green
but I only love these because they love Jesus.
These are the experts in following Jesus, without Jesus they are nothing.
I follow their example of following

* * *

I am busy.
I know this because people tell me that I am, so I must be. I do use up whatever energy I have doing a lot of stuff, that’s for sure (but I still have time for a number of movies).
I spend my days with the homeless, mostly.
I get food with the homeless and for the homeless and local poor families.  A ton of food a week for four hundred people.
I work to make work for those who don’t have work. Sometimes I am able to pay them.
I make peace amidst violence.
I encourage Jesus’ followers to serve those who need service.
I make disciples and preach sermons and lead worship.
I only do this because I firmly believe that it is what Jesus did
and if he were here he’d be doing something like what I do
(if not exactly these actions).
Jesus, if here in our “first world” would be hanging around the third world that exists within it.
If Jesus were here, he’d be healing those who can’t get healed.
He’d provide justice for those who have no recourse for justice.
He’d feed the hungry, comfort the outcast, make disciples.
He did all that, so I’d expect him to do the same.

* * *

This doesn't mean I’m always like Jesus, God knows.
I have days when instead of making peace I make enemies.
Instead of making disciples I make haters of God.
Instead of helping the needy I push them away.
I hate days like that.  Moments like that.
But I remember that my goal isn't balance.
It isn't happiness or personal fulfillment.
My only goal is following Jesus.

* * *

There’s a number of people who tell me that following Jesus isn’t a good idea,
or at least the way I’m doing it.
My doctors tell me I’m too stressed.
Some friends tell me that they don’t want to watch my life, because it’s too painful for them.
My atheist friends tell me that I’m too smart to be caught up by one guy.
My Christian friends tell me that I go too far.
My progressive friends say I’m not political enough
My conservative friends say my economics are too radical.
My fundamentalist friends say I’m too flexible with the Bible and
My liberal friends imply I should be more intellectual
(not that they would judge).

I’d love to be living a different life myself.
One that doesn't pressure me all the time.
One that doesn't push my cultural buttons everyday.
One that doesn't cause me to be anxious about people on the edge of dying.
One that doesn't require so many memorial services.
Maybe a life that paid a regular salary would be nice.
A life that gave me more opportunities to meditate and write.
Where I could watch my health a bit better and could give my wife the life she deserves.
But if I gave up on this life,
If I chose some other religious vocation--
The life of a middle class pastor or a professor in a Bible school or to be an advocate for the homeless—
I’d be living a lie.
I’d no longer be following Jesus.
I am not pointing fingers at other professions, I can’t do that.
I’m only talking about me.
This is what I have to do to follow Jesus.
To take an easier, more mainstream path is no longer following Jesus.
I must follow this path until I am no longer able to follow this path
Because of physical incapacity
Or because I am too much of a jerk.
(Being a jerk for Jesus isn't following Jesus at all.)

* * *

I’m not interested in being a Christian
whether a zealot, or a mystic, or denominational promoter or spirit-filled.
I’m not interested in being the family guy
whether the proverbs 31 gal, the good spouse or parent.
I’m not interested in being the social justice guy
whether of the racism, sexism or classism variety, or even a homeless advocate.
I’m not interested in being the smartest guy in the room
a rationalist, a poet, a history expert, a Bible scholar or move nerd or Menonerd.
I’m not interested in being a leader
whether preacher or administrator or prophet.
I’m not interested in being a repentant sinner
whether an ex-addict or former fundie or on a diet.
I’m not interested in offering services
whether being a tax consultant, an EMT or handing out blankets.
Honestly, I’d like to be all of these things
And sometimes I am all or some of these things.
But all these things are crap compared to following Jesus.
In the end, it’s always following Jesus I come back to
and surrender everything I can do or be to him.

* * *

I've always got blinders on.
In following Jesus love is central so I can’t hate or be apathetic.
(by which I mean I can but I can’t if I’m following Jesus).
In following Jesus I always begin with the low and I can’t get wealthy support first.
Leadership is servanthood, so patriarchy is out.
Forgiveness and restoration is always the goal, so I can’t cut anyone off.
Mercy is the law, so meeting needs is a constant activity.
I live at creating peace, so violence and harshness is out.
Poverty is a blessing so personal wealth isn't an option.
Wisdom is found in the uneducated, so no diplomas for me.
Vulnerability is basic, so I can’t protect myself as much as I’d like.
There’s a lot I can’t do.
But this is the path the world is changed.
One act of kindness at a time.
Following Jesus is a limitation.

This post is a part of a series of blogs.  They asked me to post this in the article: "As MennoNerds, we all have found certain distinctives of Anabaptism to be central in our expression of faith.  This article is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog in the month of May on Anabaptism."Mennonerd Blog Series on Anabaptist Convictions


  1. awesome opening post for the synchro...thanks!

    1. Thanks, Robert! It was a great blog collection.

  2. First off, my apologies because this must be over my head. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent fellow, but I don't understand this post at all.

  3. Wow, I'm in awe. Awesome concept and beautiful message.

    1. Thanks. It's pretty much how I think. Maybe that's how come Chadrick didn't get it? My thinking is kinda odd.

  4. Dear Steve Kimes, I'm writing from Italy so I apologize if I write something bad or wrong in English.
    I, like you, would like to follow Jesus in a radical way. How do you think I can have a job or something like that (I'm not interested in money at all) about helping homeless people and so on?
    Thank you

    1. I've never been paid for helping the homeless. It's just something you do. This is how I got started: I met a homeless man and invited him to dinner. Then I listened to his stories. He invited more people to my home for dinner and I listened to them. I listened to homeless folk for two years before I had thoughts about what they might really need. Before we can really help we have to really listen. Not expecting money to help the homeless is certainly helpful. I don't personally think anyone helps others if they are doing it for pay.