Tag Archives: discipleship

Pointing to Jesus.

First published January 21, 2010

John – the one we know as “the Baptist” – had followers.

We don’t think about that, considering that he was a plain-speaking, rough-dressed, wilderness-living kind of guy. He’s the kind of guy that is interesting to visit, but “you wouldn’t want to live there.”

I think we don’t really understand John or his time.
His character attracted attention. His message, that the Kingdom was near, attracted hearts. People were not happy with their lives, not happy with trying to measure up to religious rules. He offered hope, wrapped in a lack of pretense.

Of course he had followers.

One day Jesus walks by. John has two disciples with him, learning, watching, listening. John points at Jesus and says, “there is the Lamb of God.”

FullSizeRender (9)The two disciples walk away from John and toward Jesus.

It feels peculiar. It seems like they should have been more loyal, that they should have stuck around.

But John’s whole message is “I’m here to point out the Light, the Lamb, the One.” When these two followers left, they were giving John the opportunity to live what he said he believed.

We worry about followers. We want people to listen to us, to pay attention to us. We want to be noticed, to matter. It’s a human thing.

But Jesus invites us to point people toward him.

It’s a funny thing, fame is, especially for people talking about Jesus. We (and I am one of those people) want to be clear, to be fresh. We want to help people understand Jesus. But then, when we are noticed, we can think that the attention is about us. If we work hard to attract more attention, it is about us.

John offers another way. Don’t worry about getting attention, just point toward the Lamb. That’s why we’re here.

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13 ways to be more like Jesus

  1. Learn what he said. It seems obvious, but I need to say it.
  2. Do the things he said to do. Like any good teacher, the learning often happens by practicing, not just listening. Too often we expect perfection. Perhaps he didn’t. At first.
  3. Do things the way he did them. How did he live his life? What if we attached realistic time to the verbs? Walked from here to there. Spent time.
  4. Spend time with him. Conversation, hanging out, assuming that silence is presence rather than assuming it is judgment or disdain or detachment.
  5. Spend time with other people who are trying to be like him. Community. Conversation.
  6. Wrestle with hard questions. Instead of assuming easy answers.
  7. Do something that matters.
  8. Make mistakes. and then listen to his feedback, the way he worked with the 12. Because the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are full of arguments and mistakes and misunderstandings.
  9. Talk to the people he talked to, like his dad.
  10.  Be deliberate and intentional.
  11. Read what he read. We know it as the Old Testament. He knew it as the Law, the Prophets and the Writings.
  12. Go fishing.
  13. Pray for those who persecute you.

A disciple, simply

Okay. Can we talk for a bit? I’m out of practice with writing, so it will take me awhile to find my flow again. But I’m working on a sermon for Sunday and I’m sifting through my heart and brain (and all the tons of debris that live there), gathering fragments for a simple, useful, helpful, clear, not churchy, memorable, practical, both point AND process oriented, untricky, replicable definition of “disciple”.

We’ve talked about the idea of a disciple here for the last three years. There are several books on my Kindle and my shelves and my desk about disciples and discipleship and disciple-making. It is not for lack of material that I am wrestling this week. But perhaps the struggle that I have and that these many authors and organizations and ordinary people have is that there are so many words for a very simple thing.

I mean, for the first three years, a disciple of Jesus was someone who followed Jesus around, listened to what he said, argued with it, misunderstood it, and asked him for clarification about it. There was no political expectation, no perfection expectation. There was a huge learning expectation, a huge engagement expectation. There was uncertainty, skepticism, fear. There was failure.

As I thought about these first disciples this morning, I realized that they were always asking Jesus questions about what he meant. He was often pointing out what they didn’t understand and then explaining. I realized that I hardly ever hear people ask him what he means. I hear people asking for things, like healings and miracles, but the disciples didn’t so much. They were wanting to understand what he meant.

I wander what he’d say if we did that more?

I mean, maybe I should ask Jesus what he meant by “disciple.”

i bet they weren’t ready

Jesus and his disciples were attracting a crowd. People came, the disciples baptized, the religious leaders noticed.

They had the story wrong, of course. They thought Jesus was doing baptizing. But still, they noticed.

For some reason, when Jesus hears about the attention, he heads out of town, back toward home.

It could be that he was running scared. Somehow, that doesn’t seem likely. What is more likely is that he was protecting the disciples from premature popularity. He needs to spend the next couple years teaching them.

Sometime our spiritual promotions are slow because we have more to learn.

there He is

John – the one we know as “the Baptist” – had followers.

We don’t think about that, considering that he was a plain-speaking, rough-dressed, wilderness-living kind of guy. He’s the kind of guy that is interesting to visit, but “you wouldn’t want to live there.”

I think we don’t really understand John or his time.

His character attracted attention. His message, that the Kingdom was near, attracted hearts. People were not happy with their lives, not happy with trying to measure up to religious rules. He offered hope, wrapped in a lack of pretense.

Of course he had followers.

One day Jesus walks by. John has two disciples with him, learning, watching, listening. John points at Jesus and says, “there is the Lamb of God.”

The two disciples walk away from John and toward Jesus.

It feels peculiar. It seems like they should have been more loyal, that they should have stuck around.

But John’s whole message is “I’m here to point out the Light, the Lamb, the One.” When these two followers left, they were giving John the opportunity to live what he said he believed.

We worry about followers. We want people to listen to us, to pay attention to us. We want to be noticed, to matter. It’s a human thing.

But Jesus invites us to point people toward him.

It’s a funny thing, fame is, especially for people talking about Jesus. We (and I am one of those people) want to be clear, to be fresh. We want to help people understand Jesus. But then, when we are noticed, we can think that the attention is about us. If we work hard to attract more attention, it is about us.

John offers another way. Don’t worry about getting attention, just point toward the Lamb. That’s why we’re here.