Monday, November 18, 2013

The Way of the Disciple

When we think of being disciples for Christ, we think of going to church more often and making a sincere effort to act nicer.  Additionally, we are to make other disciples who will come to our church. 

That’s all good, but it’s missing the point of discipleship. 

When Jesus sent his people out to do his work, he didn’t talk about church attendance or looking respectable.  Instead he told them to focus on helping people get better. Take another look at the first few verses of Matthew 10 and consider the ambition behind his instruction:

*Heal the sick.

*Make them clean (touch the lepers and heal them).

*Give them peace

*Raise people from the dead--make them alive again.

*Give generously—throw yourself into the task.

*Don’t worry about where you’ll get the money—just do it. 

“Tell them the kingdom of heaven is near,” he said.  In other words, there is a new way to live and a new world to live in, where people can have enough to eat, and to be healed, and feel alive again. Tell them that we can have a world where love has transcended laws, and we can reach out to touch God. 

I believe Jesus meant for those things to happen right now, not sometime later in the next life. He has not given up on this world. He intends for things to be made better now, and he means for us to help him make it that way.

Discipleship is not about living a quiet decent life. It’s not about being a good example by showing how often you go to church. It’s about looking squarely in the face of the suffering of this world and throwing ourselves in the task of making it better. 

Then one day, we will stand before Jesus and he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  

Team Jesus

Jesus enlisted the aid of his disciples in his work. When he performed the miracle of feeding the crowds, he had the disciples go out and find what food there was, and then he had them pass it out. I marvel that they got to be part of the miracle of where a few loaves and fish became more than enough to feed five thousand.

There were other things.  Jesus wanted them to pray with him. He also had them preach, heal, and cast out demons with him. 

You could say that discipleship is being part of “Team Jesus” where he is the captain, but everyone participates.  Everyone gives valuable effort to bring positive results.

Disciples don’t just work for Jesus, they work with him.  In effect, Jesus, the Son of God, was saying, “I couldn’t do it without you,” which is a huge honor, but it carries with it responsibility for which we should have a sense of duty.   

When a church focuses on keeping itself alive, it is for the purpose of continuing to participate in Christ’s work. It is not to preserve our memories. It is not so we can continue to keep our friendships. It is not to have a place where we can go to feel good.  It is to reach out with our hands and our hearts and help those who are suffering, unhappy, scared, sick, and lost.

Any church that does not keep the mission of Christ firmly in mind will end up closing its doors. But if we exist to serve Christ’s purpose, we will continue to be vital.

How about it? Want to be a part of Team Jesus?