When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. . . . They entered a village of the Samaritans… but they did not receive him. . . . As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the True Human has nowhere to lay his head.”
— from Luke 9. 51-58
Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is the prophetic witness and the liberating miracle that is the center of his ministry. Jerusalem is the place of his greatest test, the final sifting of his life, the ultimate giving of his gift; and finally it will be his death. To follow Jesus is not merely to hold splendid thoughts about him; it is to go with him to your own Jerusalem. It is to commit yourself to justice and prophetic witness, to the liberating struggle, to practicing radical compassion, to giving your gifts without reservation, even to your death in small and great ways. To “follow Jesus” is serious stuff.
According to our baptismal vows, following Jesus means “resisting evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” Don’t you imagine that evil will fight back? If you follow Jesus don’t expect the world to accommodate you. If you, like Jesus, want to be a True Human, don’t expect to be rewarded or admired. Don’t expect to be made to feel like you belong. People will want you to feel like a misfit. They’ll try (mostly unconsciously) to trick you into giving up being Truly Human and instead get you to be Nice. Don’t fall for it.
Set your face toward authenticity. Accept discomfort. Make peace with vulnerability. Become accustomed to feeling like you don’t belong. Because you do not belong to what other people feel or believe. You belong to God. God will hold you on your journey. God will provide for you in your witness. The Holy One will defend your being Truly Human, Truly Yourself, Truly God’s.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes