Alpha, Omega, and Everything In Between ~ Discipleship

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 10:1-11 and Acts 2:37-42.

In talking recently with my great friend Sarah, who serves Rehoboth Congregational Church in Massachusetts, we shared what we thought we’d be preaching on this coming Sunday…because…you know…that usually comes up when pastors talk.

(We also talk about recent stiletto acquisitions…this may not come up when other pastors talk…and it’s a shame.)

As we were talking, I shared I would be preaching on Discipleship.  And Sarah said, so eloquently, “Discipleship is like Nike: Just Do It!”

Wow…shortest.sermon.ever.  And full of truth!

So I started pondering…how do we “just do Discipleship?”  We have models for Discipleship in Scripture.  There are TONS of books out there about Discipleship…but if we get caught up only reading about Discipleship do we ever really DO it?!  I love me some books…and reading…but Discipleship is not and cannot be all theory and study.  There has to be praxis – or practice/actively engaging the theory learned – in there!

It’s like the saying I’m sure you’ve heard…sitting in church makes you no more a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you a car.  Along the same line of thinking, we are not disciples if we simply read Scripture, sing hymns, attend committee meetings (Lord help!), pray, attend worship, and talk to folks who are at church.  We are disciples only if we actively engage Scripture and take what we have experienced inside the the church facade into our communities!  We have to go beyond the walls, beyond our comfort zones, “to infinity and beyond!”

(Thanks Buzz.  Forgive me, I serve a church near Disney…)

But does our gospel message translate?  Do we speak the same language as our neighbors who do not yet have a relationship with Christ?  Do we share the same vernacular?

And beyond that…does the gospel message translate to present day?  Is it relevant?

Leander Keck and his band of editors for The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary ~ Luke and John say, “YES” to both!  The gospel message and the mission of the church – to spread the gospel message to the ends of the earth – has not “become unnecessary or impractical.”  It translates, but the challenge of the translation is “the changing conditions of the communities in which we live [that force Christian believers] to rethink the Gospel’s teaching about the mission of those who follow Jesus and to find avenues of obedience that are effective and appropriate for our times as well as faithful to Jesus’ teachings” (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995, pg. 222).

In other words, our challenge to make sure the gospel message translates to our communities is to contextualize the gospel message to our surroundings.  We consider Scripture in light of our circumstances and seek what truths Scripture can offer to us to make sense of them.  True, we may not relate to laborers in the field at the time of harvest if you work in a high-rise office building or manufacturing/distributing warehouse.  But you do and can relate to being overwhelmed by the work that needs to be accomplished each and every day and sometimes wishing that more help was readily available to you.

So it is with Discipleship.  There is so much work for the Kingdom to be done, but if we limit the workers that attend to our Kingdom tasks to the persons already in our churches then the work may never be done to the fullest.  And limiting the workers also robs potential workers – our brothers, sisters, neighbors just outside our walls – from joining in our mission, from becoming a Disciple.

To invite these brothers, sisters, neighbors to join our community, we have to go beyond ourselves and beyond our ecclesial walls, and seeking the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, share the gospel message in a way that is accessible, relevant, inspiring, and inviting.  This looks different for every person in every faith community and that difference is an example of God’s beauty in diverse mission and ministry approaches.

Reflection: How is God calling you beyond to meet your brothers, sisters, neighbors and share with them the gospel message in a relevant way?  What fears, if any, do you have about getting beyond your personal comfort zone and church comfort zone to be a disciple and make disciples?  How can God and your accountability partners help you address these fears?  What is one way you can “Just Do Discipleship” this week?  Share with a friend what you will do and then follow up with them after you have done it!

Discipleship…Just Do It!