Monday, 13 December 2010

To Follow Jesus...

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

A disciple walks the journey that has been laid before them by Jesus. They do not wish to carve and create their own destiny, but rather seeks their destiny to be the one that has been created and carved by Jesus. It is a journey they walk, not seeking to find the way on their own, but rather seeking the Way of their Master, walking in His footsteps, the path of discipleship that He has already taken.

And this path of discipleship is not one that is taken lightly or carelessly. It is a tough road, a road of suffering and sacrifice. It is a road of promise, yes; a road of hope, yes; a road of peace and joy, yes; but it is not an easy journey. Followers of Jesus are called to love God above all and everything else, to put God first in their lives that they would be willing to literally lay down their life for Him. Disciples of Jesus are called to love others ahead of themselves, to put away selfish desire and to desire to serve others.

To follow Jesus is to recognise ambition for what it really is, an excuse to covet what others have, and to put down their ambitions and take up their Cross and follow Jesus.

Therefore, disciples of Jesus must never expect life to be easy and prosperous. The path of the Cross is difficult and painful, tough and treacherous. It is a journey that Jesus has walked, a path that was brutal, yet out of such suffering came glory and victory as Jesus boldly stepped out of the darkness of the grave and into the light of that first resurrection morning. So His disciples can be assured that while they may experience the pain, darkness and the bitterness of the path of the Cross, one day they too will step into the Light of Jesus and joy of His victory.

To follow Jesus is to recognise that we are sinners. It is to see that, as we follow Him and see who He is and how he lived, we are not yet who God wants us to be, that we are not yet living the way that God wants us to live. It is to humbly acknowledge where we sin and fail, and then to seek God's love, grace and forgiveness that our lives may ever more reflect the life of Jesus.

To follow Jesus is to name the powers that enslave people and to stand against those powers and seek to strip them of this power. It is to stand firm with those who are oppressed and abused, that the oppressors and abusers would be exposed and made powerless.

To be a disciple of Jesus is to love God and see that this truly is the greatest commandment and that Jesus models to us what it means to love God with all that we are and then called us to go and do likewise. We are called to live like Jesus.

To go and be like Jesus does not mean we simply should sit and discuss what that might mean to be like Jesus. It does not mean that we should just practice to be like Jesus with lots of other people who are also practising to be like Jesus, but rather that we should go to the places Jesus would go, be with people who have never heard of Jesus, and then live and love like Jesus, learning on the spot in difficult and challenging situations what it means to to be like Jesus. But it does also mean that disciples of Jesus need each other, should be accountable to one other and should truly love each other so that others may recognise that they are disciples together.

A disciple of Jesus is called to pray. They are called to pray without ceasing, seeking to know the mind of God. They are called to pray and listen to the Spirit and see that prayer is the most essential part of their walk with Jesus. Above all else, pray.

Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy, and it's not meant to be. Some would ask 'why bother then?' Because to follow Jesus is to discover your true self, to become the person you were always intended to be. It is to discover the beauty of the life and love of God. It is to discover the beauty of giving life and love to others. It is to be assured of a hope yet to be realised.

This journey you are on is leading Somewhere and Jesus is the Way that you will get there. As you continue on this journey you are called to bring something of this future Land of promises to be experienced today. You are called to share with others the beauty of the Promised Land in the midst of the ugliness and pain of today. The path of discipleship will lead you beyond the Cross and into the Promised Land. One day Jesus will lead you into this Land, a place of peace where all tears will be wiped away and pain will cease once and for all.

Perhaps in my ramblings, this is a glimpse and is something of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus...


Sarah Crae said...

Love this Joe, may have to use it for a sermon - we so need to grasp discipleship and what it means in our church. xx

John Wilson said...

Hey Joe, my name is John. I read a lot of blogs on religion and prayer and I've ended up at your blog once or twice before. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this prayer exchange website I thought it was an interesting idea and would be curious to hear what you (or other christians) think about it

I'll check back here in the next day or two, thanks & God bless
John W.

Joe Haward said...

Thank you Sarah. Hope it can be of help in some way. Keeping you in my prayers. Hope everything is going ok with life and church. We're travelling back to Essex at the weekend for Christmas! Grace and peace mate.

Hi John, good to hear from you.
I've had a look. I like the idea of helping people around the world connect and pray for each other. What really concerns me though is how you earn money or credits to pray for people. Prayer is always a gift and we shouldn't be earning money out of it. There is something deeply de-Christian about that.

But if it could be changed so that it simply helps people connect and pray for each other without any 'reward' then it would be good.

God's grace is a gift. Love is unconditional.

Grace and peace John.