This Sunday I will be preaching the 4th installment of a 6 week series on Discipleship. I’ve decided to deviate from my usual mode of working out of one text, to wrestle with a collection of passages scattered throughout the New Testament on formation. My title is “The Path of Greatest Resistance” and is about choosing the narrow road of a life-long commitment to being made new everyday, more and more, into the image of Christ.
Here are my thoughts so far:
# 1 -The transformed disciple is like Christ in his Mission
If we follow Jesus, and take him seriously as “the Way”, then we share his mission in this world. We are concerned with seeing the whole world “come to Christ”. Our main task, as the church, is to lift up Jesus for the world to see. We don’t lift up ourselves, or this leader, or that political position. We don’t elevate causes above him. We don’t exalt any particular agenda over him. We work diligently to detach Christ from particular religious practices that enslave and destroy rather than give life. Our basic function is to ensure that others can see clearly Christ and only Christ. This is a tall order in a world that, in the words of Christ, “doesn’t have eyes to see…” But with God all things are possible. Not only do we need to pray that the world can see clearly it’s Creator and King, but we also need to pray (with humility) that we not become blind ourselves.
# 2 – The transformed disciple is like Christ in his Incarnation
Jesus’ incarnation is not only an historical event with no relevance to how we live as his followers. Philippians 2:5-8 is a beautiful and poetic reminder that we (his followers) are the embodiment of the Resurrected Jesus on earth. Furthermore, we are to be as he was, sharing his attitude of suffering servanthood, willing to let go of any claims to inheritance in order to show our love for others, putting their needs before our own. And if we do this we become a living witness to “another Way” of being human in this world. We testify by our lives that God has made it possible to offer our lives as living sacrifices in service of the world.
# 3 – The transformed disciple is like Christ in his Patient Love
Perhaps one of the greatest (and more subtle) formative experiences in the Western world is that of the impatience. We can’t wait on anything. I know it sounds rediculous, but I think one of the greatest lessons that Shaila and I can teach our son, Jett, as he grows is the little children’s song “Be patient, be patient. Don’t be in such a hurry. Cause when you’re impatient you only start to worry. Remember, Remember that God is patient too! And remember all the times when others have to wait on you!” A lot of times we assume that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God is so different – as if they were two separate God’s, or as if God changed his management techniques. But both testaments bear witness to a patient and long-suffering God. Our God (the Father, Son, and Spirit) is ever patient with us, even willing to endure our idleness, sinfulness, rebellion and neglect. He loves us and he waits patiently for our prodigal return. And we are the church – image-bearers of this God, seen most clearly in Jesus. It is absolutely central to our calling that we (like Jesus himself) be patient and long-suffering with others and the world we serve.