It's Others' Hope
For some of you this will be repetition (but it's worth it!) as I want to draw on some of what we're reading and experiencing through the Lenten devotional. The Great Commission of making disciples gives us our destination, while the Great Commandment of loving the Lord and loving others provides the road map to get there. As we become great lovers of God and lovers of people, that "becoming" will draw others to Jesus. Becoming is a critical ingredient, the one we don't want to omit in our spiritual journey. But it is also the ingredient that is easiest to lose sight of; the one that is often neglected without thinking about it. Loving like Jesus is first about becoming. Then, as we become great lovers of God and lovers of people, we will live a life that reflects the life of Christ.
From The Great Omission by Dallas Willard
When Jesus walked among humankind there was a certain simplicity to being his disciple. Primarily it meant to go with him, in an attitude of observation, study, obedience, and imitation. There were no correspondence courses. One knew what to do and what it would cost. Simon Peter [said], "Look, we have left everything and followed you" (Mark 10:28). Family and occupations were deserted for long periods to go with Jesus as he walked from place to place announcing, showing, and explaining the here-and-now governance or action of God. Disciples had to be with him to learn how to do what he did Imagine doing that today. How would family members, employers, and co-workers react to such abandonment? Probably they would conclude that we did not much care for them, or even for ourselves.
Did not Zebedee think this as he watched his two sons desert the family business to keep company with Jesus (Mark 1 :20)? Jesus stated a simple fact: it was the only possible doorway to discipleship.
Though costly, discipleship once had a very clear, straightforward meaning. The mechanics are not the same today. We cannot literally be with him in the same way as his first disciples could. But the priorities and intentions—the heart or inner attitudes—of disciples are forever the same. In the heart of a disciple there is a desire, and there is a decision or settled intent. Having come to some understanding of what it means, and thus having "counted up the costs," the disciple of Christ desires above all else to be like him.
The disciple is one who, intent upon becoming Christlike and so dwelling in his faith and practice, systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end. By these decisions and actions, even today, one enrolls in Christ's training, becomes his pupil or disciple. There is no other way. We must keep this in mind should we, as disciples, decide to make disciples.
In contrast, the non-disciple—whether they are inside or outside the church—has something "more important" to do or undertake than to become more like Jesus Christ. An excuse keeps the non-disciple from becoming like Christ and the abundance of life he came to bring. Such lame excuses only reveal that something on that dreary list of security, reputation, wealth, power, sensual indulgence, or mere distraction and numbness still retains his or her ultimate allegiance.
A mind cluttered by excuses may make a mystery of discipleship or it may see it as something to be dreaded. But there is no mystery about desiring and intending to be like someone—that is a very common thing. And if we really do intend to be like Christ, this will be obvious to every thoughtful person around us, as well as to ourselves. Of course, attitudes that define the disciple cannot be realized today by leaving family and business to accompany Jesus on his travels about the countryside. But discipleship can be made concrete by actively learning how to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, walk a second mile with an oppressor—in general, living out the gracious inward transformations of faith, hope, and love. Such acts—carried out by the disciplined person with manifest grace, peace, and joy—make discipleship no less tangible and shocking today than were those desertions long ago.
Imagine Christ standing before you—listen as he says:
I am the one who is love (1 John 4:8). I am the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3—4). I am the one who is humble and gentle (Matthew 11:29-30). I am the one who is moved with compassion because of the needs of my people (Luke 15:20). I am the one who encourages you through Scripture (Romans 1 5:4). I bear your burdens daily and support you in life's struggles (Galatians 6:2).
Now imagine that the Teacher invites you to become like him. Jesus asks you to express his love and to extend his love to a dark world. He invites you to experience his transforming love so that you might reflect his love to those around you.
Much love and prayers,
PS Mike would like to visit with you, preferably at home sometime, just to connect, listen and pray together. You can set up an appointment yourself by clicking here and choosing a day/time.