Thursday, April 9, 2015

Community - Intimacy - Discipleship -

Lately, I have been experiencing a deeper "hearing" from God in both the quiet, but also in the midst of gut wrenching ministry.  I have tried to capture what He is teaching in these notes below:

Imitating Jesus in discipleship requires intentional hard work.  We cannot nor should not expect to make disciples the way Jesus did.  First of all because of His Divine nature He knew His disciples intimately, more so than we can ever hope to with those we disciple.  Secondly, and again due to His divinity, He could disciple several people intimately, yet at the same time.  So, what are we to do?!

Well to start with we need to recognize there is a cost in obedience that cannot be avoided in discipleship.  If we expect Christ to make disciples, to build His Church through us, we must count the cost, then be intentionally obedient in love and submission to Him.  Yes, there will be learning on our part to establish a knowledge base for "teaching them to obey all I have commanded".  We may participate in programs, systems, etc that help equip us, but there will be a deeper, more time (and heart) consuming cost that is actually the greater progenitor of any success we may hope for.

Do not be mistaken, there can be no true discipleship without intimacy.  And that intimacy for us mere humans is primarily found in one-on-one relationships where trust and safety are nurtured.  There may be moments of intimacy in small groups, but we all know that it is much easier to be vulnerable and authentic with one person in whom we trust and feel safe.  This is the all-important phase that I believe is the heart of true discipleship, but which is also missing from most books, systems, etc of western discipleship. The term my wife and I prefer for this intimacy in discipleship is "anam cara", the Celtic (Gaelic) for soul friends.  It implies a close personal relationship that sits under the headship and love of Christ.

So, where does this leave our churches and pastors?  Well clearly they are where and in whom the process, the journey of discipleship starts.  But recalling "the priesthood of all believers" there is also a clear call to each and every one of us to eventually enter into an "anam cara" relationship with at least one other person.  There may exist within anam cara a mentor/mentee relationship, but Christ is still our teacher and guide.  These relationships will see blessings and growth for both discipler and disciples.

If you are a pastor, you owe it to yourself and Christ to encourage every member of your congregation to seek out their anam cara.  Prayer for God's provision and guidance is of course essential here, and then our active "waiting upon the LORD".  No pastor is capable of being all things to the congregation, and every follower of Jesus must be personally obedient in love to His commands and commission.

This then is where and how Christ will make all things new through His Body, the Church.  This is where and how we personally participate in that divine ushering in of the "already, not yet" Kingdom of God.


#saveyourpastor #blessyourselfandothers

And this too:

Caregiving - "bear one another's burdens"

This is a difficult but JOYful book about a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, yet heavenly ministry.  Where suffering and love is a Cosmic collision, a divine fusion.  }:-

We are all called, or will be, to the ministry of "wounded healer" during our lifetime to at least one other person.

It is indeed difficult and emotionally draining, this heavenly ministry.  No one person should endeavor to enter in without counting the cost, and also never to do so with too many people at once.  This is clearly why we all need each other, and why pastors and counselors burn out and crash.  This is why the Church, the Body of Christ is present in the world, and we must all do our part.

I am reminded of a beloved pastor and Brother who taught a lesson on "burden vs load".  We are taught by Jesus to carry one another's burdens, but there is a "way" to "balance" that burden so it does not become a load we cannot bear.

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Remembering that a yoke is a walking instrument for following (walking with) Jesus.  In this way, our burden remains light as we live out our Lord's teachings from the Sermon on the Mount.

May God speak His Truth and encouragement to you in these reflections from a humble, broken but mending Brother.  }:- 💜

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