You are under pressure at work, you have limited free time, and yet you want to do what you can to be a follower of Jesus; What can you do? Here are five very basic starting points:
READ: four people wrote down the story of the life, death and teaching of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the ‘New Testament’ section of the Bible) so read one of these every three months (it takes 2.5 hours to read Luke) and ask: am I hearing and doing what Jesus wants me to do? Read a few paragraphs a day or read it in one go. If you have more time read other parts of the Bible. Park the things you find difficult (you can come back to those another time) but concentrate on hearing and doing all the things that are clear.
PRAY: pray the “Lord’s Prayer” every day. But pause and begin to learn to listen to what Jesus might be saying to you; Jesus promised his Followers he would be alongside them to give them confidence, help, peace and wholeness. If you have more time tell God about the people and relationships that need help; tell God about the challenges you face, and listen for ideas; ask for help in resisting evil in all its forms; always listen for what you might be asked to do. Explore ways of praying that Christians through the centuries have found helpful in learning how to listen.
MEET: meet with other Christians four times a year at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Harvest. If you have more time join a small Group in a home or a Pub, at work, in the Gym. Find informal ways to remember and encounter the risen Jesus in bread and wine. Meeting with other followers of Jesus should always be enjoyable, stimulating and focussed on Jesus; if it is not, try another group. Find ways to encourage the other Followers of Jesus you meet with.
KEEP MOVING: life is an interesting journey, with excitements as well as troubles. Jesus said it would be, but he told his followers to cheer up: bringing God into every area of activity brings hope and new opportunities. So follow up each year on one idea for God that gets you out of your comfort zones. If you have more time explore ideas or thoughts that interest you; re-visit some of the tough passages in the Bible that you parked for later research; work out what you could do with your money or time ‘to bring good news to the poor, release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed’ – when he started off, this is what Jesus told his family and friends he was going to do, and he was quoting an 8th Century BC Jewish writer who had predicted that this is what Jesus and his Followers would be doing.
MEASURE: once a year take two hours out on your own in a quiet place to review how you have done in the last twelve months. What might Jesus be asking you to do in the next twelve months? Are you getting the hang of how this all works? If you are getting stuck, who might you talk to? If you have more time: spend a review day away in the country or on a boat or a ski slope; keep a Journal through the year to help you see how you are doing by the year end; list out the benchmarks you could measure against for the season of your life you are in, the priorities you have, the responsibilities God has given to you, and the time you are able to set aside for being a Follower of Jesus.