Lenten Journey Day 36 – Discipleship
It would have been appropriate to start this Lenten Journey the topic of discipleship. I have intentionally left it toward the end of the Journey, because as I sure you will agree, discipleship means something different to you today than it did 35 days ago.
The word disciple means student, or a follower of a person. In the Bible, disciples were those who were in Jesus’ company, those who were learning from him. This group went on to become apostles. Apostle means one who is sent. Once they had learned from Jesus, the disciples were commissioned to go out to the world to teach and preach.
Being a disciple of Christ means you are one who learns His words. You praise His life because you have applied his teachings to yours and the improvement of quality (in your life) is overwhelming. At the beginning of this Lenten Journey I asked you to inventory the many aspects of your life: What is necessary to live? What is truly important in your life? By inventorying you can monitor importance levels. You will have a frame of reference. You can note changes in value and attitude.
Today we switch gears. We are now at a point – discipleship – where we are moving from theory to practice. Lent is no longer a burden but is something to look forward to, as a time for change, as a time for reflection, as a time of growth. I would venture to say that you are at a point where your outlook and attitude is noticeably chanced. Perhaps you would call it a mature outlook and understanding of the self and purpose for the self. How do we survive? How do we make a difference in our own lives? How about in the life of our community? Of our family? And even, the world? We have a more mature understanding of faith: Less “me, me” and more “what can I do to help others?” “How can my sacrifice affect the bigger picture in life?” “How can I put something into the larger collection of what we call life? In this understanding, in this maturation process, Discipleship now has a different meaning, for it is not a question of merely following Jesus. It is not even a question of learning what He had to say. It is about actually becoming, living that faith, becoming the person and people God wants us to be.
The message that our Lord Jesus Christ brought to us 2000 years ago was a simple one that God is accessible, that God is there. And it does not matter who you are. It does not matter what social class you’ve come from. It does not matter what your past has contained or not contained. There are no more excuses. God has been revealed and in that revelation He is now reachable. We cannot touch Him but we can understand Him in a new light. We understand Him as pure love, something that touches us and something with which we touch others. It is the message of sacrifice, of faith, hope and love. Most importantly it is a holistic message that to be a Disciple of Christ today means something different to us because we approach Christ holistically. We do not merely focus on His message, we do not merely look at the person of Christ, but collectively the person, the message, the sacrifice, the giving, the God nature is all there for us. So as disciples of Christ we use all of our senses.
We hear His message. We read the message with our eyes but likewise we bear witness to the message that is around us. We see the waves at the ocean, the mountains, the beautiful flowers and the smile of our children. We use our nose to absorb the aroma that comes from all of the goodness that is around us, the beautiful fragrances of God’s wonder. We appeal to our sense of touch. We reach out to people who need a hug, who need a hand. We also find that with those hands that are extended to us are bodies that are waiting to be hugged, waiting to be kissed, waiting to express that love holistically. Finally we appeal to our sense of taste in the Holy communion. It is that final recognition that we are disciples, as our fathers teach us, come and taste the Lord for indeed the Lord is tasty.
We are the disciples of Christ. We have learned love. We now live love. We must share that love. “By this they will know that you are my disciples”, says our Lord Jesus Christ, “that you love one another”.
Today’s prayer is a thought from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, on the idea of Discipleship:
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.