Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Something Deeper...

city, man, person

In our post-modern, image-based, experience-oriented culture, a statement like the this one from Richard Foster is both salient and descriptive...

"Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."   (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)

When the storms of life inevitably hit, can we hang onto God and His promises?  When persecution strikes a church, do the members increase their commitment to reflect Jesus in the world or do they quietly, or even quickly, scatter?  When the temptations of the world seduce Christ-followers, do we have the wisdom and the resolve and the "soul tools" to push back?

As we think about the leaders of our churches, can they take us deeper?  Are our Christian leaders deep people?

Dallas Willard asked a pointed question:

"Who among Christians today, is a disciple of Jesus, in any substantive sense of the word 'disciple'?  A disciple is a student, an apprentice--a practitioner, even if only a beginner. the New Testament literature, which must be allowed to define our terms if we are ever to get our bearing in the Way with Christ, makes this clear.  In that context, disciples of Jesus are people who do not just profess certain views as their own but apply their growing understanding of life in the Kingdom of the Heavens to every aspect of life on earth."  (Dallas Willard, The Great Omission)

I want to be a deep person in Christ.  I want to be a disciple of Jesus--in the truest sense of the word. And I know that mere church attendance and church activities will not produce a soul formed like the soul of Jesus.  As a leader, I have learned that creating and putting on the system that we call the institutional church will not necessarily make me a practitioner of the Way.  Often, it can sap my resources and make me hollow.

To be a disciple of Jesus, to be a learner of Jesus' way in the world, first requires a commitment to the journey of spiritual formation.  It requires an intention to learn Jesus' style of life and unlearn some of the habits and patterns acquired along the way.  To be  a disciple of Jesus is to change and grow.

The Apostle Paul would reflect on this process in his letter to the Galatians, "My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." (Gal 4:19).

  • Are you ready to learn Jesus' ways and rhythms of life?  
  • Are you open to letting go of deeply held commitments to managing life your way?  
  • Are you ready for Jesus' style of life--"for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt 11:30)? 

Jesus said, "The time has come...The Kingdom of God has come near.  Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)

The first step into discipleship with Jesus is repentance--turning away from one life and into another.

Repentance is a first step and a life-long commitment.  Welcome to the Kingdom!