Distinctions matter… which is why Jesus said “Follow me” not “Fix your eyes on me.” More so, “following” Christ is a call to imitate The Way, The Truth and The Life and not merely admire him. Why do we dumb down what Jesus said?
A new commandment I give you: that you love one another. As I have loved you, so too must you love one another. By this all will know you are disciples to me, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
“10If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have spoken these things to you that my joy may be in you and your joy may be made full. 12This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this: that he should lay down his soul for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. “ John 15
Do we dare replace Jesus Christ with finite and fallible human beings in the Old Testament or the New Testament? Who would we look to understand what Jesus means when he says “So be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” other than Jesus?
Time and time again scriptures point to Jesus to follow and to imitate.
Hebrews 12:2-2& 3 “Looking ahead to Jesus the leader and finisher of faithfulness who, preferring the joy that lay before him, endured a cross, disdaining its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3So ponder him who endured so much hostility against himself from sinners, so that you should not grow weary, fainting in your souls.”
Why do we aim so low? Why do we continue to over look the life of Christ and his teachings to look back to the Old Testament to “be like David, Daniel, Joseph or any Old Testament person who dimly pointed to Christ” rather than imitating the prototype and the Redeemer.
“Lord Jesus Christ, it was not to torment us human beings but to save us that you said the words “No one can serve two masters.” Would that we might be willing to comply with them by doing accordingly—that is, by following you! Help us all, each one of us, you who both will and can, you who are both the prototype and the Redeemer, and in turn both the Redeemer and the prototype, so that when the striving one droops under the prototype, crushed, almost despairing, the Redeemer raises him up again; but at the same moment you are again the prototype so that he may be kept in the striving. O Redeemer, by your holy suffering and death you have made satisfaction for everyone and everything; no eternal salvation either can or shall be earned—it has been earned. Yet you left your footprints,1 you, the holy prototype for the human race and for every individual, so that by your Atonement the saved might at every moment find the confidence and boldness to want to strive to follow you.” Søren Kierkegaard
Last night I read the following and it seems to perfectly fit here.
“Whenever I visited Ade I came away with a renewed zest for life. She has such a sense of the sacramentality of life, the goodness of things, a sense that is translated in all her works whether it was illustrating a missal, making stain-glass windows or sewing, cooking or gardening. To do things perfectly was always her aim. Another first principle she always taught was to aim high. “If you’re going to put a crossbar on an H” she said, “you have to aim higher than your sense of sight tells you.”
Don Vitry, A Benedictine monk from Mared-sous, said the same thing in regard to music, “Aim higher than them note you wish to reach and you will come down on it.” Dorothy Day
Do we aim lower? Do we deny ourselves the God-man to admire or follow a man? God forbid.
Not only are we not called to admire men, but we are not called to admire Christ. For what is admiration if it is void of imitation. “46And why do you call out to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47Everyone coming to me and hearing my words and doing them, I will show you whom he is like. 48He is like a man building a home, who dug and delved and laid a foundation upon the rock; and a flood came and the river broke upon that home and could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one hearing and not doing is like a man who built his home atop the earth, without a foundation, upon which the river broke and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that home was a great one.” Jesus, The Bible
To admire or in our modern day verbiage “to fix our eyes” is to do nothing. We are called to pick our crosses up, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, to sell all we own, to lay down our lives, to speak no evil and to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This requires more than a gaze but a great number of sacrifices.
“The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard