Let me start with a confession, I am an idiot. Thankfully for me, Christianity, or at least Jesus’ teachings, allow for that by putting God (and not me) in charge. The reason I am an idiot is because a lot of what I say in these posts and on the podcast has taken me a long time to grasp. It’s especially heinous in my case as I have had lots of experiences from which I could have/should have learned it. Why didn’t I, even when it was spelled out? Because I didn’t live it.
And the reason for me saying this is that I don’t want you to think I am preaching from my high tower, but rather from a place the same as anyone else. I don’t want you to think I am having a go at you, accusing you from my more enlightened throne. This is particularly pertinent when talking about discipleship and the themes in this post because I am not talking from experience. I have been terrible with both discipleship and evangelism, in fact, I still am.
So with that in mind, on with my
So, in the podcast we talked about the difference between evangelism and discipleship, but discipleship we (should) know leads to evangelism. Jesus sent out his disciples (12 or 72) like lambs among wolves. The two chapters here are Matthew 10 and Luke 10 (the Matt story is also told in Luke 9) and they hold some interesting points for us before I get to what I actually want to talk about.
Firstly in Luke Jesus sends the 72 to all the places He would go. Now surely there’s an implication for us as disciples. That we go ahead of Jesus, though not in His place. That it is our job to ready people’s hearts and minds for when Jesus comes. It is not for us to do the converting, Jesus will take care of that, we just let people know He’s on his way.
Secondly, in verse 9 of Luke Jesus commands them to heal the sick and in Matthew v.8 he says: ‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils‘ with both commands being abutted with the proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven has come near. Sooo, as disciples we’re supposed to be doing stuff (we won’t get into a discussion about whether miracles have ended or not, but please feel free in the comments). Jesus didn’t tell them to just go and preach the good news, he told them to show the kingdom and then point it out.
Thirdly, MAGIC! Protestants are a pretty dour bunch compared to Catholics when it comes to the supernatural and we tend to look upon anything miraculous with suspicion, you don’t see a lot of protestant exorcisms (and it’s an argument for not seeing miracles in protestant churches). This all means we tend to overlook the more magical (for want of a better word) mentions in the Bible. One of the most obvious is the power of names. It’s mentioned a lot in the Bible, such as praying in the name of Jesus and just the idea that we would know God’s name (or not know it) is important. And I use those two examples as they are beyond the reasoning that knowing someone’s name holds a psychological importance or position of power over them.
Here the magic is in the disciples ‘peace’. Both versions of the story contain a line about letting your peace rest on finding a worthy/peaceful house and if not, letting your peace return to you. You see, though the phrase ‘Peace to this house’ was a fairly standard greeting what we’re seeing here is more than words. The peace Jesus was talking about was an actual thing that the disciples were giving to the house, an actual state of blessing rather than idle talk. In fact the construction of the sentence about letting your peace return to you seems to suggest that the peace you offered (i.e. a blessing) will befall upon you. This is awesome, we should all be offering this willy-nilly in order to get all the blessings! (Though I’m thinking trying to game God is a bad idea all round). But it’s important because again it brings up this idea that there is supernatural power in what we say and do that, I think, is ignored in the modern church.
It makes sense though that if we’re disciples of Jesus, who is God, then the things He teaches us would have the same power as He did on Earth. I’ve never thought of that before, but it makes sense that if someone teaches you a sport, you will have the same (though not as good) skills as them in it.
Well that went on for longer than I thought. So what was the point? Ahh, yes, in the podcast I was quite enamoured by the idea that when two ox were yoked together, though one was learning how to do it, it was still ploughing the field. Discipleship is an active task, though we may still be learning, we should also be doing. This story in both Luke and Matthew is in the middle of Jesus’ teaching, in Luke Jesus doesn’t even teach the Lord’s prayer until the next chapter; in fact we know that they wouldn’t be fully ready to spread the Gospel until after the Ascension. Despite this, as we saw in point 2 above, Jesus sends them out to show the Kingdom of Heaven. And that was my point when thinking about these verses, that discipleship is an active role, not a passive one where we learn. I think we tend to see discipleship as a student role, going to church and learning from the pastor.
Consumer Church. That’s what’s been on my mind and it’s why I say I’m an idiot, because for all of my life I have been consuming. And it’s not really my fault because I think church is set up for us to consume. Think about it, there isn’t really an active part in church other than singing and even then we are led in what we sing and how; I would even say that worship through song is a consuming activity for many, my chance to worship, to feel good expressing my praise. But overall, I think church is designed to be consumed because it doesn’t really lead us to action and the simple reason for that is because we don’t want it to. There are many people who, if pushed every week to do something, would find another church. Think about what is preached on most Sundays, it’s about your salvation and how you should continue to live and a reminder to be thankful for it; either that or a lesson from one of Paul’s letters on how to do church better. And we do need those things, we do need a chance to recharge and be reminded, don’t get me wrong, but part of the reason pastors preach on those things is because that’s what the congregation wants. Jesus’ message has been watered down to keep bums in pews.
Here’s a little test, have you ever considered say the men’s or women’s ministry in your church and thought ‘I’m not going to go to that this time because the topic doesn’t interest me’? If you have, or perhaps complained about the music choices or any similar such thing, then maybe you’re consuming church.
I say this because it’s not about us and what we want, it’s about ministry. These activities are not there for us to consume, but for us to participate. And let me say it again, I haven’t been doing that up until I realised all of this very recently, so I’m not having a go at you. I am socially awkward so try and avoid human interaction wherever possible, but that’s ME, about ME, and discipleship isn’t about ME, but about Jesus. Discipleship isn’t a classroom, it’s an apprenticeship.
(This post does not necessarily reflect the thoughts or position of BT nor Beanyman)
Agree? Leave a comment of encouragement. Disagree? Leave a comment and start a discussion.