What is a disciple?
Kent Vincent, the Executive Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN, has been posing that question to our church in recent days. It sounds like a pretty simple question, right? But the answers he has been receiving are about as diverse as the number of respondents.
I wasn’t surprised. I mostly live in the gray world made up of more questions than answers. Simple questions imply simple answers. It was a provocative question and “homey don’t play that game.”
But, of course, my mind does want to play (against homey’s wishes), and game-time came at 4:30 a.m. this morning. Sigh!
I thought I could quickly dismiss this inopportune disruption in my sleep cycle with an equally simple Scripture reference: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (Jn. 10:27).
“Listen…follow.” Game over! (Come quickly, sweet sleep!)
Not so fast, my rebellious mind retorted. Every parable; every miracle; every thing our Lord said or did, contains precious nuances of profound insight into discipleship that demand to be spelled out so they are not overlooked.
“Listen and follow” includes the sacrifice of leaving houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake and even the willingness to lay down your life implied by take up your cross and follow me. Those seem to be almost heroic actions that you just don’t naturally associate with mindless sheep behaviors.
“Listen and follow” embodies the challenge to love your enemies; to bless those who insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of vile things about you because of the One you’re following. (This listening, following sheep seems to forget those be-attitudes whenever someone wants to correct my driving lapses by laying on their horn, much less for more spiritual reasons)!
“Listen and follow” incorporates doing what doesn’t come naturally: sharing my water and food with the thirsty and hungry; offering my home to the homeless; giving my clothes to someone who needs them more; taking care of sick people; visiting prisoners.
“Listen and follow” personally embraces the unspeakable delight of the Father seeing his repentant prodigal son returning home from afar…the discipline of studying the wisdom of the Scriptures daily…the indispensible deepening of relationship that comes from communicating with Him in prayer…the conviction to carry the good news of Jesus to other countries and grow those flocks.
Whatever your definition, discipleship isn’t just for the sheepish anymore!
P.S. Right now JMI volunteers are on mission in South Africa and we have scheduled opportunities for you to serve in Moldova and the Amazon. Just wondered if you were listening? Just wondered if you were following? Just wondering whether you were awake?!
by Steve Davis