Summary: This message outlines our discipleship process and encourages people to commit to discipleship.
This past Wednesday I got to experience something I never have before. The kids were out of school, so I made arrangements for Jamison and I to grab some lunch to-go from the grocery store. We drove out towards Wellman and pulled into a field. We ate lunch there with a few others and then climbed into a combine to harvest some corn with Jon Gingerich, one of our members. This was Jamison’s first time on a combine. And it was my first time on a combine harvesting corn. Two years ago Jon took me out to harvest soy beans.
So, Jamison and I were excited to get to ride in this big ole piece of machinery. I sat in the small passenger seat and Jamison sat on my lap. Right before we even got started Jon warned Jamison not to lean on the front glass of the cabin. Jon said a few weeks ago he would not have mentioned that, but recently he heard a sad story. He was told about a little boy that was laying on the floor of the cabin and the dad driving put the brakes on quickly and the little boy pushed the glass right out and the child fell into the machinery and was killed. Very sad and a freak accident. And you should have seen Jamison’s face as this is the first thing he hears. He grabbed onto me pretty tightly or held the hand bar for quite a long time. Not a great way to start our fun experience. But eventually Jamison relaxed and enjoyed it.
This morning we are continuing this ride we call 40 Days of Community. We have talked about being better together. You were created for community. And it is in community that we can reach out and share our faith with others. We talked last week about being in fellowship with each other. We need to be with each other and get to know each other as children of God to grow closer to one another. This morning and all this week we will be focused on our next purpose as a community and that is discipleship. You were designed to be a disciple. Being a Christian disciple means that your life looks like the life of Jesus Christ. I would say as a disciple of Jesus you would allow Jesus to live in you. This is not easily done and it definitely does not just happen.
So today I want to lay out the process by which I believe God will help you grow as a disciple. And also remember this is about community.
I also think I will start like Jon did with the harsh reality first. Just as he wanted to warn us that a combine can be a dangerous machine, I want to remind you that discipleship is a very serious subject. I think we often make discipleship optional. It is just for some people that have time. It is for those who may want to go into ministry, but it is not for everyone.
Wrong. If you are a Christian, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian than you are to be following Jesus. You are to be learning and growing in the love of God. And Jesus gets pretty straight in this passage when he says following him must be more important to you than your father or mother. It must be more important than your son or your daughter. Actually it better be more important than your own wants and desires.
I chose to read from the Message paraphrase this morning because it puts this in better wording for me than other translations. What Jesus actually says is if you love your parents more than him, then you are not worthy to follow him. If you love your children more than you love him then you are not worthy to follow him. Ouch, those are hard words, but I also believe they are true.
I believe the best way to love those close to you, is to love God more. You see when you add the love of God to the love you have for others, including friends and family, it multiplies the love you have for others. So in my own ability to love I can love Jamison and Hayden, this much, but if I love God first and foremost, my love for my children expands. It is the same just in myself. If I try to be the best I can be in my own human strength and ability, I can be okay. But when I give myself over to God, when I lose myself to God, I am fully set free to be more than I could ever have imagined. It is true for you also. You can try your best by yourself, but it will only get you so far. God says, I created you for community. I designed you to be a disciple, and when you give yourself to that process, God will free you to be more.