Authentic Christianity

Authentic Christianity

“Why It Matters For Followers of Jesus”

 Peter E. Watts

A Book Review and Reflection

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. . “Jn. 15:12-13s

“When a man hears a complaining word and struggles against himself, and does not himself begin to complain; when a man bears an injury with patience, and does not look for revenge; that is when a man lays down his life for his neighbor.” St. Poemen

    Peter Watts opens his book saying:

“The older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that people are incredibly valuable and important. People (of course) will let you down at times, even friends and family. . That is simply the reality of life in a broken world where self-centeredness is so commonplace.. .Others have something to offer you, and you have something to offer others. You can either work through life’s issues alone or with others. The path you choose will make all the difference in the world.”

    Social media in all forms is a part of our lives today, and it separates humanity. We put on our best face, let people see our pain very little. There is a screen between us.

    During this time of the Pandemic we have relied on Zoom, and it to puts a screen before us. Both are excellent in many ways, but a screen does not allow us to bond, to be of help to another when we  are sick, hurting, and falling down. Both social media and Zoom separate us from the smelly, flesh and blood of  humanity.

    The author describes two models of relationships: “Self made model” , the “professional” relationship and the “servant model”.

    The “self made model”, “professional” model is pretending to be human, “niceness”, “distance”, which suppresses our connectedness to others and eliminates our fear of rejection.

    My friend Marilyn and former boss was a social worker. Every year she would have a Christmas party and invite her “clients” over to her house and give them gifts; when she met them on the street she would greet them as friends. Marilyn was called “unprofessional” but her “clients” changed, and related to her out of her love. Marilyn accepted herself, her faults, inconsistencies, and was not afraid to be open and thus take a chance on rejection. She suffered with her patients.

    There was another time and my friend Mary Lou had died. I was sitting in the hall way of a church crying, and people walked by, and one person asked me, “Please go in the other room, we do not want people coming in seeing you crying.”  That night one of my street youth stayed with me. Who do you think showed compassion?

    The self made model teaches that with plenty of money we will be happy, but instead our lives are more miserable, and our worries disconnect us from others.

    Few people take time to listen, to simply listen, and in so doing people are driven away into loneliness, we tell them ‘see a therapist”, which sets up a disconnect. We use “professionals” to keep us from the pain of the world.

    Watts gives us a new way of being human–enter Jesus with his  Servant Model

“Contrary to what many people assert about him, Jesus did not enter human history merely to ensure people a great afterlife only to neglect much of life on earth here and now. –Jesus challenged and invited people into a new way of life that involves making a radical shift in how we think about and relate to others-., . .everyone, and that has everything to do with life on earth here and now. In fact Jesus lived  in this new way of being human and it has proved to be the only solution to and replacement for the self-made project. .”

    Jesus’ way of life was that of servant hood to which he calls his followers to live. Servant hood means we choose the path of forgiveness, and  hear the words of Paul, “If it is only possible as far as the you can, live at peace with all.”

    It is as risky, but life is full of risk. Try to cross California or Bush Streets during rush hour, that is risky or go for a ride with one of my eighteen year old friends–talk about risk, you are shaking every inch of the way. What is interesting when you were teaching him how to drive, what a perfect little angel–but the license made him into the devil driving, come with me sometime and take a real risk. We have been told we take risks–no–we live our life to it’s fullest.

    Put sharing with people first: the presence of another, connection, support, comradely, appreciation, affirmation, acceptance, love (Jesus style), being known, knowing others, and sharing your hopes and dreams.

    Life lived in relationship/friendship with others is worth the risk.

    Being a a follower of Jesus is about becoming more concerned with our world and taking that concern about doing something about it. Following Jesus has everything to do with living in a fuller–God intended humanity.

    We are most alive when we are centered in Jesus and his very earth centered mission in this world, and living this new humanity is a process, and is in conflict with the world’s for it will seem less than human in their eyes, but our lives will become more full, more alive, and way more whole. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!.


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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