Tuesday, February 14, 2006

spirit of servanthood & stewardship

I just loved this chapter of McDonald’s, The Discipling Church. So many excellent quotes about the cost of following Jesus:

"We have managed to do something that the early Christians would not have thought possible. We have made Christianity safe, middle-class, comfortable. Even when we acknowledge the words of Jesus, we tame them."

In worship design, we were struggling with metaphors for this message. In our culture, they end up sounding negative instead of positive: give it up, lose your life, be a servant. Why? What’s in it for me?

On the way home from the meeting, I started thinking about what kind of things that we humans are willing to make large sacrifices for. One example has been on TV all week – the Olympics. Athletes willingly offer themselves, their time, and their possessions to be part of an amazing experience that is bigger than they are. You hear stories about sacrifices made, injuries overcome, perseverance in the face of adversity just to be part of the Olympic experience.

So, what will we gain by becoming a disciple and servant? I think we will become part of an experience that is beyond imagining: bigger than us, bigger than the Olympics, bigger than humanity. "God crafted our minds, bodies and emotions to be at their best when we are serving others sacrificially."

I also think that being a disciple and servant is going to require much more than self-discipline, even of the Olympic variety.

Our "behavior" will not be changed long with self-discipline, but fall in love and a human will accomplish what he never thought possible. By accepting God's love for us, we fall in love with Him and only then do we have the fuel we need to obey. - Blue Like Jazz, pg. 86

Friday, February 03, 2006

homeless men

Originally uploaded by kimxtom.

Our church hosted 40+ homeless men this past week through PACEM and it has been an eye-opening experience. I only stayed overnight a couple of nights, but that was enough to shatter many of my stereotypes about the homeless.

The homeless men I met didn’t fit into neat pigeonholes. They were black & white, young & old, sober & drunk, unemployed & employed, talkative & private, clean & dirty, intelligent & confused. They all stayed in our small fellowship hall – very reminiscent of scenes from Katrina. They were kind to each other and very gracious to their hosts. I’m trying to imagine what the mood would be like with 40 middle-class men sharing this small space for a week.

I also met Lynn, the activist. She was homeless herself (see story here) and is very clear about the problem in our town. There is no affordable housing. To live indoors here, you need to earn over $20,000 per year and you are not going to earn that with minimum wage. Did you know that living in poverty is currently defined as making under $9800. That’s a big gap.

Lynn has said that "being poor means having no choices. It means playing by other people's rules in a game that is often unfair and humiliating." I met a group of men this week who are living this with more grace and courtesy than I think I could muster.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

being a disciple

Then Jesus said to all the people: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will save it. - Luke 5:1-11

Who is a disciple? A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call of Jesus Christ. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us. - Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials

It seems to me that a disciple is someone who makes following Jesus their top priority every day, every hour, every minute. It also seems kind of impossible. Another adjustment to my thinking about discipleship. It's less about being a disciple and more about becoming a disciple. It's a life-long learning process.