For my birthday earlier this year, my husband Charles gave me a book written by one of his colleagues at Southeastern University. It is titled The ONE Jesus Loves and it is by Robert Crosby. The whole premise of the book is to establish a new rubric or a new model for understanding growing closer to Jesus. He shares an observation that over the centuries the following have been tools for growth in Christian discipleship:
"The Apostles' [or for us the Nicene] Creed helps us with right beliefs.
The Lord's Prayer assists us with focused intercessions.
The Ten Commandments define clear morals in the eyes of God.
The Circles of Christ might help display more vivid intimacies with God."
"The Circles of Christ are not stages that determine our merit or value; rather, they are areas of experience in our intimacy with Jesus. And they do not necessarily function in a linear fashion. They represent areas of intimacy with God that we enter, visit, and revisit and that help to form and conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29 )" (p. 20).
I offer Robert Crosby's model to you because I am finding that his perspective and approach to relationship with Christ is both rewarding and thought-provoking. Here are his "circles":
- The Crowds which represent those who follow Jesus to the places of watching and listening but may not continue to follow;
- The Five Thousand which represent those who follow Jesus to the places of feeding and healing and want to keep receiving from Him;
- The Seventy which represent those who follow Jesus to the places of working and serving but they might not fully comprehend the call to draw closer to Him;
- The Twelve which represent those who walk with Jesus to the places of leaving all and following Him;
- The Three which represent those who follow Jesus even more closely than the Twelve to the places of glory like the Transfiguration and suffering like the garden of Gethsemane; and
- The One which represents the person who was the closest person to Christ during his earthly ministry. For Crosby he identifies The One as John, one of Jesus' Twelve and he develops his thoughts about the significance of that particular relationship. I am also tempted to think of Peter and Mary as Ones who had a life of close intimacy with Jesus during his earthly ministry, as well as the apostle Paul through a supernatural encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and his subsequent ministry.
As Crosby states, we move in a non-linear fashion through these circles of intimacy and we will be in different places at different times, but our call as Christians is to keep moving toward The One no matter where we are in our journey. He concludes one of his early chapters by stating, "Remember...followers of Jesus refuse to follow at a distance; if you're not moving closer, you're moving away" (p. 15).
These are convicting words for me personally, and I hope they challenge you to consider how to keep growing closer to Christ.