Am I a disciple of Jesus?
We Catholics like to make use of a great device called The Examination of Conscience. This ordinarily takes the form of a list of questions, the answers to which help a person to uncover areas of sinfulness.
I recently spent time listening to a wonderful and insightful priest, Father Michael Schmitz, who offered an examination, not so much of individual sins, but of discipleship. It was a look at the general movements in a person’s life: not just following the rules but being conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29). He summarized it beautifully: a lot of us don’t truly love Jesus… we just really like him. So we’re not actually disciples – we’re just kind of tagging along…
Father Michael offered three self-examination questions, which I paraphrase here.
- Have I changed my schedule anywhere today for Jesus? Have I made time or moved something or given something up in the last 24 hours for Jesus?
- Have I spent money or avoided spending money on anything in this past month because of my faith in Jesus? This isn’t just about donations. It includes the movies I’ve paid to see, the number of drinks at one sitting, the kind of clothing I’ve purchased, the music I’ve downloaded. Did my relationship with Jesus affect anything having to do with my spending?
- Is there any relationship in my life that I have walked away from in the last year because of Jesus? There are folks I (could) hang around with who live lives of indulgence or whose language is repeatedly foul, critical, negative, suggestive… otherwise seemingly good people who neglect their work or their families. A part of our ability to truly follow Jesus can mean moving beyond some relationships or time spent with toxic people. Often we hang around because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. That really isn’t the issue here: it’s about growing in love with Christ, not pleasing other people.
Behold Jesus on the Cross. He gave us all of his time, all of his wealth and all of his love. And he hungers to bring you and me into a new, deeper and more wonderful closeness to him. Our time, our spending and our friendships give us a picture of incredible clarity when we look at them and ask: Am I a disciple of Jesus Christ, or do I just like him a lot?