A Dynamic View of Following Jesus
As teenagers at Fifty-Ninth Street church in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn who had made a commitment to following Jesus, we used to flock to Saturday night church rallies, particularly attracted to announced sermon topics like “How to Find the Will of God for Your Life.” An underlying assumption behind such sermons seemed to be that there was a static blueprint for each of our lives, and we needed all the help we could get to discern what that blueprint was as soon as possible, before we make irrevocable blunders.
I now believe that the idea of there being a blueprint for working out my aspiration to follow Jesus does not bear up under biblical scrutiny. For example, Isaiah 58:10-11 reads, “If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then … the Lord will guide you continually.” This passage suggests that it is in the very process of helping others that you gain greater discernment as to how to continue helping others.
This suggests a dynamism in my attempts to follow Jesus. At any given time, I decide on a course of action that reflects my present understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. The results that emerge from this course of action help me to refine my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. This refined understanding, in turn, informs my decision as to a subsequent course of action. This cycle then continues for the rest of my life.
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As of July 31, our ecumenical conversation on what highly regarded representatives of twelve Christian traditions believe worshippers in their traditions mean when they aspire to be “followers of Jesus” has been completed. One of our conversation partners (CPs), Randall Balmer of Dartmouth College, my very helpful consultant for this project, concluded that “the year-long conversation was a smashing success.”
As indicated in the “Overview” document that can be accessed below, the next step for this project is to capture the highlights of this conversation in a book that is tentatively titled “Following Jesus: Perspectives from Twelve Christian Traditions.” A first draft of this book is close to completion.
My current plan is to submit a Book Proposal to one or more potential Christian publishing houses by early October. I will let readers of this website know the results of this publishing exploration.
Twelve Month Electronic Conversation starting on August 1, 2021
Following Jesus: Perspectives from Diverse Christian Traditions
Moderator: Harold Heie
Twelve Month Agenda
Leading Question for the first of the month (Directed to the conversation partner for the tradition being featured for the month)
What are the various views of those who worship in your tradition as to what it means to “follow Jesus” and what is the primary view?
Leading Question for the 15th of the month postings (Directed to the other eleven conversation partners)
What major agreements and disagreements do you have with the views expressed in the posting of the conversation partner who submitted the first of the month posting as to what it means to “follow Jesus,” and what have you learned from that posting that has the potential to enrich, or possibly provide a corrective, to the primary view of those who worship in your tradition as to what it means to “follow Jesus?”
Leading Question for the final day of the month posting (Directed to the conversation partner being featured for the month)
As you review the eleven 15th of the month postings from the other conversation partners, what were the main things you learned from other traditions that will be helpful to those who worship in your tradition as they seek to faithfully follow Jesus into the future