Disciple

Dust of Christ

It was shared with me at one point in my life that to be a disciple means to walk so closely to the master that the dust of the masters that is kicked up can fall upon the disciple. 

To be a disciple of Jesus means to be that close - so the dust will fall upon you.

This takes a few things to consider that are interesting.

Crowds that press upon Jesus so closely are often described as desiring to be healed. But maybe they desired the dust of the "Second Adam" to fall upon them?

When Jesus encourages the seventy (or seventy-two) to go out to the outer towns, and they are not welcomed they are told to shake the dust off their shoes. A friend pointed out that maybe in shaking the dust off their shoes also means that the dust that came off of Jesus is left in that town.

Just a couple observations, but stuff I found interesting. 

If you don't play the game you will never be soccer player

The other day in a session I was able to teach, I sort of had a "going off the script" moment. These generally are the times where some of my better lines come from. While this line was not earth shattering, it was enough to stick in my mind and recall later. So I share it here.

My son is 4 and he is a horrible soccer player. He does not follow the rules. He likes to carry the ball. When I tell him to kick the ball into the goal, he sits on the ball. Needless to say, he is not on the fast track to be the next Messi (5 goals in one game! You have got to be kidding me!)

 

The thing about soccer, like all sports, is that there are rules that one must follow in order to play. If you do not follow the rules you will never be a soccer player. 

Likewise, there are rhythms and patterns and disciplines and even "rules" to the Way of Christ. If you do not follow these "rules" you will never be a Disciple.

Unless you play the game, you will never develop your game.

Let those with ears hear.

Make disciples of all nations

Matthew 28 contains what is often cited as the "great commission" of Jesus. I have no idea why this is 'greater' than other commissions of Jesus, such as to feed the hungry, wash the feet of others, or forgive etc. It just has gotten that name in the modern era.

Anyway, the other day I ran across the "great" commission again and I thought for a second what if we have misunderstood this? I am not saying we have, just go with this thought for a second.

Jesus says to the disciples to go into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I noticed that Jesus does not say to go into the world and make disciples in all nations but make disciples of all nations. Put another way, Jesus does not say to make disciples of Jesus but of all nations.

What does it mean to be a disciple of all nations?

What does it mean to learn from all the nations? What does it mean to respect others in such a way that you feel that you have something to learn from them? What does it mean to be a disciple of the world?

What if Jesus was telling the disciples to no so much make more disciples of Jesus, but what if Jesus is calling the disciples to make disciples of the world.

Christian history can be seen as a religion that has forced others to be like us. Under the banner of "making disciples" we have justified our actions as a Church in the past to make others convert to our way of being. Out of love we try to convince others to abandon their way of life and become like us. It takes a posture of being one who has truth and the gatekeeper of truth and others who are not like us do not have truth.

If however, just for a moment, we entertain the idea that we are to make disciples of all nations, are we being called to make people who are learners of the world? Disciples of the world in such a way that the Christian is one who is not the keeper of truth, but a seeker of truth. A Christian is not one who tries to convert but one who tries to commune with their neighbor. A Christian is not one who tries to make clones of ourselves, but one who acknowledges the worth of others an even (gasp) learn from them?

What if making disciples of all nations was a call to humility and not conversion?

Church Growth = "We need more people like us." Really?

There are efforts in the UMC to talk more about church growth.  My cynical side will say that this focus on church growth is because the church is declining in terms of warm bodies in the pew and if the numbers of people in the pews were of the 1950's then we would not focus on church growth.

However, my non-cynical side of me says this is a good thing.

My only issue with this how church growth is defined.

If we define church growth meaning that we need to get more people into pews; that is to say if we define church growth as "getting more people to be like us" and become members - I do not think that is a great way to think of church growth.

Instead of thinking that church growth means "more people need to be like us", perhaps a healthier understanding is "we need to be more like Jesus".

When talking about church growth as primarily as getting more people, we are forgetting that the church is the Body of Christ and even people who are members of a church are part of the body of Christ.  Church growth includes those who are already members of the church.

If we redirect all the resources we spend on trying to get more people to be like us to use them on getting us to be more like Christ then the church inevitably grows!

Friends, let us be honest here, if the church is growing by becoming more like Christ not only is the Church growing, but also non-Christians will be more interested in the Christian life.

I am convinced the life of Jesus is more attractive to people than any event or sermon series in the world.