During our recent holiday in Sweden we spent a day close to the Norwegian border. After lunch in a small Swedish seaside town we visited a large shopping centre where Norwegians come to take advantage of the lower prices in Sweden. We had discussed driving into Norway so that we could have the satisfaction of having visited two countries instead of one. The problem was the small print in the car rental agreement, which restricted use of the car to Sweden.
We decided to do the next best thing and get as close to the border as possible. We used a minor road instead of the motorway and found a café and parking area on the Swedish side of the border. Having parked we realised it was possible to walk across the bridge into Norway. So we did. Right in the middle of the bridge there was a white line indicating the exact position of the border, where we were able to stand with one foot in Sweden and the other in Norway.
Crossing the border didn’t suddenly transform us into Norwegians any more than arriving in Sweden had turned us into Swedes. Having said that most of the time people took us for Swedes, and given that my mother hails from Scotland there is a fair chance that we do have some Viking blood! If we did want to adopt Swedish or Norwegian nationality then we would have to go through a lengthy process. Questions would be asked, forms would need to be completed, and evidence provided. The whole process could result in rejection, but even if accepted as a naturalised Norwegian or Swede there would still be a language to learn, and many other challenges (and bridges to cross!).
Becoming a follower of Jesus is a bit like crossing an international border, except that we are instantly accepted, and a genuine request to become a follower is never refused. There are no forms to complete, but it often seems that there is a new language and customs to learn (blame church for that particular challenge). Life as a follower of Jesus does not involve remaining at the border, or standing with one foot on either side of the border trying to live in two worlds. Jesus doesn’t expect us to sit at the border blessed in the knowledge that we have arrived. This is because there are much greater blessings to be found in travelling beyond the border. Jesus gives no guarantee that the journey will be easy, but He does promise to walk the road with us. And in walking with Him a process of transformation begins. You could call it naturalisation. For when we begin to know Jesus surely it is the most natural of desires to want to become more like Him?
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:3-8 NLT)