Irresistible Invitation: Responding to the Extravagant Heart of God
Day 25 The Hands and Feet of Jesus
If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
Dunham opens by recalling that throughout history a few people like Adam and Moses experienced God firsthand. A few others such as Mary, Martha, John, and Matthew knew Jesus as he walked amongst them on earth, the rest of us find our encounters with God through the Holy Spirit.
Imagine if you will the day of Pentecost, that time when the early followers of Jesus experienced the Holy Spirit for the first time. Jesus had promised his followers that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that they would be witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” Notice that there is a series of events here, first the disciples were to wait for the Holy Spirit and then they would receive power and then they would be witnesses. And we are told that this is exactly what happened to those early followers of Jesus. There was one problem, they needed instructions as to how to be followers, how to be disciples of Christ.
The thing that is often most difficult about discipleship is that it often involves hearing things we really would rather not hear. But if these messages are spoken in love and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit these difficult words can mean all the difference in our lives. And as we are shaped and changed by these words we are called to witness to others. According to Dunham, “in a very real sense each of us in the Christian community is to be a priest who ministers to others.” We are to be an affirming, loving, and forgiving presence to those whom we meet –openly accepting one another in Christ’s name.
Discipleship offers this enriching opportunity. Being open to one another about our faults and our feelings and being humble enough to learn from others along the way. To be a disciple means to be a learner and a follower. The word disciple has the same root as the word pupil. An apostle on the other hands is a doer. One who goes in to the world to act out what has been learned. Christians are at once disciples and apostles, “be-ers and do-ers.”
It is believed that 77% of persons who come into the faith do so because of the testimony, deeds and encouragement of someone they trust. That’s really what discipleship is all about, you see. Trust. We draw strength and courage from one another, we learn form one another. So how are we all doing with sharing our faith journey with others and in letting someone share theirs with us? According to Jesus, the cost of discipleship is losing our lives in order that we might find them. Jesus knew that life is found by getting outside of ourselves.
Remember that serving Jesus means that we are to be his disciples, his learners and followers. And that may take us to many places we might rather not go, with people we’d rather not see and doing tasks we would rather not do. Dunham closes with this story: “There was a well known war correspondent who paused long enough to watch a nun as she unwrapped a wounded soldier’s leg. Gangrene had set in, and stench from the pus and blood was so repulsive that he turned away as he mumbled under his breath, ‘I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.’ She glanced up and replied, ‘Neither would I.’” Because of who she was there was no need to add “but for Christ sake…”
What are we willing to do out of love? Who will we lead, and who will we follow?
The Heart of the Matter
--When you hear the word discipleship, what comes to mind? Is the term a positive, negative or mixture of both?
--Does your family of faith have structured discipleship programs? And if so have you considered being involved? Why or why not?
--How can discipling others help us grow?