There’s lots of talk happening these days within the electronic highways and byways of the United Methodist Church and it’s mostly centered around the issue of making disciples of Jesus Christ. There is work happening at the denominational leadership level as well as at the grassroots level. We’re talking and wrestling with how one measures the process of disciple-making. We’re asking whether or not the church is properly fitted for the job. Is it possible that the church is more communal and organizational while discipleship is more personal and relational? We’re also looking at the way small groups play a part in the process, both historically and currently. All good questions, mostly.
But part of me wonders about those of you who sit in the chairs on Sunday (the pews in some churches). Would you call yourself a disciple? Really?
When was the last time you used that term to describe who you are? You may have used words like mother, teacher, son, runner, quilter, usher, Christian. But, when was the last time you told someone you were a disciple of Jesus Christ? And, did you do so of your own volition or were you prompted? The first question I should probably ask is, can you even begin to tell me what the word disciple really means?
I wonder about this. I think it’s a question that may need to be answered before we get much further in the discussion. Would you call yourself a disciple? And if you do, why? If you don’t, why not? If you see yourself as a disciple, what makes you a disciple? If you don’t, what would have to change for you to claim that distinction?
I’m not sure we have to do a lot of remedial work in our faith understandings (and in particular, for some of us, our United Methodist understanding), but I wonder. The reason I ask if you would call yourself a disciple is because I don’t remember calling myself one very often. However, when I stop to think about it, I realize I am one. And, even more importantly, I have been growing into that role. Here are some of the ways I see myself growing:
- I find myself in prayer more often throughout the day
- I am more grieved over my sin and rebellion
- I long to hear God’s voice and seek it in the Scripture more often
- I have a greater desire to live as Scripture directs
- I want to give more
- help more
- do more to show God’s kingdom is at hand
- disciple others to discover the joy of holiness of heart and life
When I stop to consider these things I find myself with a greater desire to claim the title “disciple of Jesus Christ” and deeper longing to get better at it. My hope for me is that it becomes a more central part of how I see myself, even a central way that I talk about myself. Maybe if I wear the label more boldly others will realize this life is possible for them as well. Maybe that’s another way to lead by example. I mean, if I can be called by Jesus to be a disciple, anyone can.
What about you?
Would you call yourself a disciple?
Are you ready to really be one?
If so, maybe we can help each other out.
Holy high-five to you,