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The Way of Jesus: Following Jesus – Faith and Inertia

Paul Tournier, the famous Swiss Physician and Counsellor wrote:

The greatest tragedy in life is that most people spend their whole lives indefinitely preparing to live.

I think he must have been thinking of me when he said that.  I have spent a lot of time thinking that when I reach a certain point in my life or when I accomplish a certain amount things, I will follow Jesus the way that I feel I should be.  But really we need to decide to follow Jesus and then start following Jesus.

InertiaIt has been many years since I took Physics in high school.  I can't remember much of anything, except for three things: my teacher's name was Mr. Stocovaz (I thought it was a cool name), that my mark wasn't very good, and the principle of inertia.

The principle of inertia states that objects in motion have a tendency to stay in motion and the opposite: objectives that aren't moving will stay not moving.

Take a train for instance. If a train is fully stopped, you could take a couple of wood blocks and jam them under the wheels and it would have a very difficult time getting started and moving forward.  Take that same train when it is travelling at 80 -100 km an hour, not only would a small block of wood not effect it, it would have enough momentum to be able to crash through reinforced steel.

Tim Hansel in his book Holy Sweat says this:

Our lives are controlled by inertia. If we are living life with a block of wood holding us in place, we tend to stay there. But just as in physics, if we are put into motion, we tend to stay in motion.

God wants us to be in motion.  He wants us to follow Him.

The idea of faith forward momentum is a concept encouraged by some New Testament writers.  Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”   He uses words like straining and pressing to describe his movement on the spiritual journey.

Theologian Homer Kent sums up Paul's thinking with this statement: “Spiritual Progress is ever the imperative Christians must follow.”  Or put even simpler: Only Forward!

The Apostle Peter adds a little bit more to Paul's thinking when he talks about some of the qualities that are essential on the spiritual journey like faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, love and perseverance. He then tells his readers in 2 Peter 1:8, “If you posses these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

To summarize Peter, we are more easily directed if we are moving and growing.  A docked boat is hard to turn.  A bike on it's kickstand stays where it is.  God wants us to get moving.  As we move forward we are more easily directed and used by God and the skills that we a gaining on our journey are more effective.

Oswald Chambers in his classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest uses the phrase “reckless abandonment” to describe the life of faith we are called to:

Faith is the heroic effort of your life. You fling yourself in reckless confidence on God. God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us. Now he want us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him.

Let's not just prepare to follow Jesus – Let's follow Jesus.

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