Across the Pastor’s Desk: What is faithful discipleship?
Published 8:43 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose
Over the past several weeks, many who have been worshiping with their faith communities have heard readings that describe the life of discipleship to which God’s people are called. The lessons have encouraged the hearers to see the Savior as a model of witness and service to be followed for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. For those who have been listening carefully, it is easy to identify with the earliest followers who heard these words and said that this was a difficult thing to which they had been called.
For some to think of discipleship and being followers of Jesus as a hard thing sounds very foreign. They have come to believe that the right words said at the right time constitute such witness and service. The teachings of Jesus on the other hand do not simply call for words but for a new way of life, a way of life that is contrary to almost every prevailing attitude of the modern culture. Jesus seems to say no to everything that the world holds to be dear. Instead of the language of winning and being No. 1, faithful followers are called to think of losing themselves, of being set free from the self, that others can be served freely in Jesus’ name. Faithful followers are called to set aside the measures and standards of the world regarding human worth to see that everyone is worthwhile because in fact Christ has died for all people, whether the people acknowledge Christ or not. There isn’t a No. 1, but rather faithful followers are all one with each other in the dominion of God.
Jesus’ words remind faithful disciples of all ages how easy it to be distracted by the things of this world and that in that distraction the mission to which God’s people have been called is lost. The world says that one can do whatever one sets one’s mind to do. Faith says that God’s people cannot in fact work out their own salvation and that salvation and restoration come only as free gifts from God to be lived in, rejoiced in and shared with all the world. Such gifts of God are not personal achievements to be claimed and retained but rather are the signs of God’s love for the world to be shared with the world.
In these days particularly, a first step to faithful discipleship is to recognize that this world is not as God intended, to recognize that everyday life is caught between the ways of the world that are so alluring and the ways of the Savior that are in fact a narrow path. God’s world is not this world with a few improvements but is rather a new world in which a new way of being will be the rule. Remember, when you find yourself at odds with the world you may very well be right with God, even if it isn’t a very easy thing.
Don Rose is pastor of Mansfield and United Lutheran Church.