Authenticity, Discipleship, incarnation, Spiritual Health

Discipleship 2: louder.

“I can’t hear a word you are saying, your life is shouting too loud!” Anon.

This quote I find immensely challenging, I don’t want to be responsible for people not hearing about Jesus, I don’t want who I am to get in the way of the greatest message on earth being heard.

Yet there is a lot of truth in this quote, for me, who said it matters as much -if not more than what they said.

when David Cameron, the multi-millionaire Prime-Minister whose tenure saw the rich get richer and the poor get poorer talk about “all being in this together” it sounds different to when someone like Mother Theresa who gave up everything to live amongst the worlds poorest in Calcutta, talks about sharing her life with those in poverty, we hear a different message. Their lives speak louder.

I have been working for Churches for 20 years now, I have worked for some amazing preachers and various Churchy people but I can’t remember much of the great talks and studies I listened too, but I do remember them as people and how they made me feel.

I remember too their lives, whether I saw Christ in them, whether their life challenged and inspired me in my walk with Jesus.

Often it is the funniest bits that speak the loudest, I saw a supervisor have a row with his wife, and then come back and apologies to her afterwards, and I was so challenged by his keen-ness to put things right, really challenged me.

Another time, seeing the same placement supervisor, praying with tears in his eyes before a reasonably difficult PCC meeting, again deeply challenged me.

Another time, I ‘busted’ the Team Rector here cleaning the toilets after an event, rather than tell the cleaner off, he knelt down and scrubbed… Yet there are people who aspire to leadership who I’ve never seen roll up their sleeves and wash/dry up.

I’ve also seen emails, or over heard bits of phone-calls, or seen behaviour in meetings, or seen colleagues rip into each other which if I’m honest has left me thinking a bit less of them.

I know too there have been times when I’ve known I’ve not always acted very Christ-like too, I know there are certain situations and if I’m really honest people that do manage to push my buttons. I want to be the type of person where Christ is seen in me, but too often I know that the me in me can become to visible too often.

You see what we are really like, and how we behave really matters, what you do matters much more than what you say you do.

You see I believe discipleship is ‘caught rather than taught’.

I want to hang out with Christ-like people, I’m not into putting people on pedestals but the truth is we do need role models, and probably when we think of our Christian life, there are those people along the way who have shaped/fashioned/developed and grown us in our walk with Christ.

“Iron sharpens Iron as one person sharpens another” we are called to journey together and to be a community that gets the best from each other, pulls us up, when too often communities can do the opposite and drag us down.

The Christian faith needs to be seen and experienced with flesh on it, lived out in real life, it’s got to work on Monday morning not just sound great on Sunday night.

I used to hear the phrase “don’t look at me, look at Jesus” and there is truth in that, but if people can’t see Jesus they might look at you to get an idea.

The Apostle Paul says many uncomfortable things, one of which was “follow me, whilst I follow Christ”, he knew that if he was trying to live his life following Jesus, then people would watch him and emulate him, and so he wanted to be a good example.

Sometimes too, knowing that people are watching you can spur us on, I know as a dad that my daughter watches how I treat people, and I’ve told her it is rude to ignore people and one day I tried to avoid a big issue seller, and she spotted and challenged me, now I always speak or acknowledge them for two reasons, 1) it is the right thing to do and Jesus wants us to treat everyone with dignity 2) I don’t want Hope to see me ignoring anyone ever again.

So, I’m not knocking Bible-studies, blogs, books and I’m all for preaching and teaching but primarily our main work is not spent with our head in a commentary and concordance, nor is it about what or where our theology degree (if we have one) came from, but actually the greatest and toughest work is not saying the words, but in the day in day out strive and struggle to be an authentic follower of Jesus all the time and in all situations.

I’ll close with the quote that challenges me deeply every-time I hear it: “The Greatest cause of Atheism in this country is Christians who confess Christ with their lips but deny him by their lifestyle, that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable”.


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