follower, or just sympathizer?

This post is personal. This one’s for me.

You are welcome to look over my shoulder.

Most of these words are not mine, but excerpts from Henri Nouwen and his book, The Road to Daybreak.

“The Gospel today reveals that Jesus not only had good, faithful friends willing to follow Him wherever he went and fierce enemies who couldn’t wait to get rid of him, but also many sympathizers who were attracted but afraid at the same time..

The rich young man loved Jesus, but couldn’t give up his wealth to follow him. Nicodemus admired Jesus but was afraid to lose the respect of his own friends and colleagues. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking at these sympathizers because that is the group I find myself mostly gravitating toward.

I love Jesus bu want to hold onto the friends, even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus but want to hold onto my own independence, even when that independence brings me no real freedom. I love Jesus but do not want to lose the respect of my professional colleagues, even though I know there respect has little to do with what grows me spiritually. I love Jesus but I do not want to give up my travel plans, writing plans, speaking plans, even when these plans are often about my glory, than his.

So I am Nicodemus, who came by night, said safe things about Jesus to his colleagues, and expressed his guilt by bringing to the grave more myrrh and aloes that was needed… Nicodemus deserves all my attention.”

Leaders inherit the problems. They don’t blame or excuse.

Nehemiah’s first step to rebuilding the Wall was to first to inherit a problem and surrendered afresh to His God. The reason we have impotent Church that the young reject today is because those of us who lead are often more sympathizers of Christ, rather that passionate followers who are living our lives fully surrendered to Christ.

I needed this reminder today as it has become clear that I am approaching the finishing  transition.

It’s not that I am done, but some of the most important moments of the game are now in front of me. Convergence is about now bringing all of who I am, to what God has given me to do. I desire to not fall back into the camp of the sympathizers… the one’s getting ready to retire.

As a Christ-follower gets older, it is easy to subside in one’s sacrifice and passion. To step away from the challenges. To back off from the risky. And to walk away from the real fight.

The prize of surrender is revelation. Jesus reveals himself in new ways to those who choose to surrender, again.

Just as Christ told Nicodemus that the way to new life was that of full surrender, the way forward into the next stage of living for Christ, involves full surrender, again. It is confronting, over and over again ourselves and asking… “Am I follower of Christ, or a sympathizer of Christ.”

Lord Jesus… I desire to not just be sympathetic to your cause, but to be even more passionate in my intimacy with you, and more passionate in my willingness to expend my life for you.

Holy Spirit by your power, allot to me the courage to stay the course and to live the surrendered life, even more at this stage in my journey, that when I first began.

Father, help me to be named as one loved you well, and play my part to influence others for your Kingdom, to the very end.

© Terry Walling / 2013


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