You Do Not Need to Go to Seminary to Follow Jesus

Today’s post comes from Jon Stevens who together with his wife Elaine runs The Open Gate Farm on Camano Island an hour north of Seattle.  Jon says: A little bridge brings friends, family, and customers to our farmgate produce stand where crisp lettuce, crunchy radishes, and beautiful beets share space with bread and cinnamon rolls and colorful plants.  We have lived here 10 years, and are entering our 6th year with the produce stand.  All of our activities are rooted in, are centered around, and are driven by our family mission statement, “To live so that others may know the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
It comes as a jolt to some folks, but it is true.  You do not need to go to seminary to follow Jesus, to draw close to Him.  If you can read, or know someone who can, you can do it.  It starts with reading the Book, the big one.  Then just do what it says.
It’s that simple.  Really.  Just do what it says in the Bible, remembering that the New Testament trumps the old if there is any conflict.  Of course, you have to take it at face value.  That is, after all, how Jesus takes you.  He does not “contextualize” you. He doesn’t form a committee to consider you, or gather some friends together to talk about you.  He just takes you.  So likewise, we should “take” Him.  Read the Bible and take Him by doing what it tells you to.
And therein is the jolt.  The more seminary training, the bigger the jolt.  And if you want a lesson in ducking and dodging, in denial and doubting, get someone with a Phd in religion and ask them why we can’t take the Bible at face value.  You’ll see a lot of fancy footwork, but they won’t be dancing with Jesus.  You’ll see them dancing with doubt.
I’m not sure we can draw close to Jesus.  I’m thinking since He is the one who chooses us, He’s the one who does the drawing close.  Sends His Holy Spirit ahead to clear out our cobwebs and check our shoe size, then He shows up with the band and refreshments and when the music starts, asks us to dance with Him.
When we do finally shuck off our shyness, we step out on the perfect floor and so long as our eyes are on Him, we don’t feel like fools, and we begin the dance.  And you know, it goes on and on and we never get tired and our feet never hurt.  Not until we take our eyes off Him so we can get a diploma that says we know lots about religion.  Then suddenly the shoes start to shrink and we meet real pain.
But when we listen closely to the song in the Bible, the love song of the New Testament, we can always step out again and He’ll be waiting for us on His dance floor.  The band will strike up and we can once more celebrate the real.  For none of this around us now is real, you know.  Only what is around Him is real.  At least, that’s what I read in the Bible.
And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
May you start reading the Bible soon, and discover yourself dancing with Him.

7 Responses

  1. Thank you for doing this Lenten series. It’s really useful to read what other Christians have to say. I’ve linked to you on our church blog.

    I wouldn’t be quite so distrustful of people with PhDs in religion 🙂 and all their contextualising and “dancing about.” Although I can see what you are saying and it makes sense.

    We all have different learning styles and different ways of handling spirituality. For me personally I like to read the Gospel with the context in mind because it grounds it in historical reality. I happen to have a strong sense of history, other people don’t find history appealing and it won’t work for them. Different approaches work for different folk.

  2. Oh, absolutely agreed that you don’t have to go to seminary to follow Jesus.

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