Lets get beyond the nice words about discipleship and get into confession time. As a leader of a large church, time for disciple-making is ridiculously non-existent. That’s my really honest reflection. Sure, I have some people I spend some time with that I and hopefully able to spur on in the work of discipling others, but really, pathetic excuse at being a discipleship ambassador! I find that church does that…it can fill the time with a million things. Its not that there is no teaching, discipling or development taking place. Its just not enough to impact the community in a significant way. In that, I am failing.
Yet, I also find that people’s lives can be filled with a million things which mean that people are distracted on the whole from the process of being disciples of Jesus. Following Jesus is not some weekend pursuit. Nor is it a ‘lifestyle choice.’ Following Jesus is a surrender, a submission, a denial of self, a taking up of a cross, a walking of a narrow way and its hard. No sensible person would want to do it.
But as I was reminded earlier, there is an occasion in the gospels when a large crowd walk away from Jesus because his teaching is too hard…all, that is, apart from the disciples. Jesus says to them, ‘Don’t you want to go too?’ And Peter replied. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ He’s hit the nail on the head. Jesus is the Way. I pray that phrase most days, it appears as part of the morning prayer office of the Northumbria Community. ‘To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.’
Thing is, I believe many of the folks who inhabit our churches are in need of tonnes of encouragement to get to that place of saying ‘there is nowhere else I can go or would go, Jesus.’ That is a key mark of devotion and, I’d say, allegiance to him. It is recognising that we’re out of other options. You see, this is the hard bit. This is the narrow road that I believe few will find, just as Jesus said. It is a path that must be sought and a path that must be taken deliberately and intentionally with wholeheartedness.
You see, the church blames the world for the state of the church. The world have done nothing but walk without the light that people of God were supposed to let shine from the hill. I sometimes wonder if we have a gospel at all. I sometimes wonder if all we have is a life improvement scheme with optional add-on life extras which is devoid of challenge, power and usefulness. Lord forgive me if that is what I’ve ever made it.
I’ve no doubts about the generosity of God’s grace, and I’m sure he delights in all his creation, but I do wonder how many of us he’d really count as ‘the body of Christ.’ See, I still believe that repentance/turning towards God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration and infilling by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation. They are necessary foundations to the life of discipleship. Transfer from one Kingdom to the Kingdom of God is necessary. This happens by grace, through faith in Christ…its his work, lest we should boast and brag about it, but a work that has obvious fruit flowing from it.
These word’s from Paul always challenge me:
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor 13:5)
It it Christ that is being formed in us? Are we following? Are we obeying? Is our allegiance with Christ? May it be so!