On November 2nd of this year, in my old stomping neighborhood in downtown Chicago Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope. What made this tightrope walk unique was that he did it forty stories above the Chicago River with a blindfold on in a city that is known for its incredible gusts of wind. As usual, people love to see the death defying and the terrifying, and it was beamed across the world to over two hundred countries.
I think I can assume that most of us would probably not line up to follow Nik on that kind of stunt. There is something in our human nature that makes us want to avoid walking on a thing rope dangled between two buildings forty stories in the air. I think it might be common sense. Most of us would never undertake such an experiment, but some of us may feel that our Christian walk is a tightrope walk. We might feel as if there is very little room for error, like we are walking blindfolded and at any second we could fall off the rope. We like to sometimes look all around us and create for ourselves ideas of what it means to be a Christian. It means getting straight A’s in school, or never getting in trouble, or always wearing a smile, or never getting depressed, or never overreacting, or never losing our temper, or maybe even for some it means always voting republican, or for others always voting democrat, or having a pristine squeaky clean life, house, marriage, ect…ect… ect… There are two problems with these ideas though. The first is that these standards often get shot to pieces when life happens. In other words, it looks good in our heads, but life is messier than that. We grow. We are stretched. We fail, and in those times when we feel like the tightrope is impossible to walk, the reason we feel that way is because it is.
The second problem with these ideas of the Christian walk is that they are not even from Christ. The term “Christian” means followers of Christ. If this is what we want to be, then we have to start with what He calls us to do. So what does Christ call us to do? There are many passages where Jesus gives the Christian call, one which is exceedingly clear and concise is found in the gospel of Matthew.
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” –Matthew 16:24–26
We are not called to walk a tight rope. We are called to set that life aside and simply follow Christ. All those passions, expectations, and plans for the perfect life get in the way of what is really important. Can you imagine Jesus thinking about what everyone else thought, or whether He looked like the model citizen, or whether His life was perfect on the outside. Jesus lived a life, but it wasn’t the picture perfect one we might want. He was threatened, harassed, tempted, angry, hungry tired. Jesus’ life wasn’t perfect, Jesus was perfect despite life. That’s why the writer of Hebrews draws comfort from the trials that Jesus faced when he says…
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. -Hebrews 4:15
Jesus doesn’t call us to live perfectly. He already did that. That’s why the cross is so meaningful to us. We are simply called to follow him. Not on a tightrope, or blindfolded, but…. “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) Don’t call yourself to live the life that Jesus didn’t call you to live, or hold yourself responsible when you stumble. The Christian life is not meant to be an experience of stressing and second guessing every step we make. It is meant to be a life where we lay everything else aside with seemingly reckless abandon and just follow Christ, and make the things that were most important to Him the things that are most important to us. May God bless you as you seek to follow Him.