call, cost, Deep, Discipleship, Discipline, faithfulness, Life in the Spirit, Life styles, obidience, priorities

“There is nothing remotely sissy about the women’s auxiliary balloon corps”.

A quote from Blackadder from Captain Darling, both trying to work out ways of avoiding death in the first world war by trying to escape the trenches, yet neither of the two men wants to admit that actually they are afraid of fighting and dying.

Captain Darling, manages to get a safe job behind a desk, and Blackadder tries (and fails) to be posted elsewhere.

This picture reminds me of uncomfortable (and maybe uncharitable) thoughts and conversations I have had with Christians about mission and evangelism.

The truth seems to be they’d rather be doing something nice and pleasantly Christian rather than the costly and sacrificial following of Jesus.

Interestingly, we were doing an outreach on Easter Saturday, and the Church was full of people doing flowers, but only one person came out onto the streets to do outreach with us.

I remember once we were desperately short of people to help with out teenagers and one person emailed to say she couldn’t do it because she was the only singer who could sing soprano (or something like that) in the choir.

The problem is this is it is majoring on the minor.

Prioritising the trivial over the transformative.

Our will being done, not Christ’s will be done.

Discipleship cannot be conditional discipleship, following Jesus only when we happen to be going in the same direction.

Christianity lite.
Decaf Christianity with extra milk foam.

when I was at college there was a cartoon that said “God I will go anywhere you call me too” and underneath it said “provided it is in Surrey”.

It made me think, is the problem with discipleship in the west that it is discipleship on our terms?

A phrase that often challenges me is “If Christ is not Lord of all, is he Lord at all?”

I think all of us find it easier to serve God when it is fun and rewarding, it is harder when it is seemingly making little progress.

Rather than being a backseat driver I fear when the call looks costly, or it is hard-work and a slog, we wrench the steering wheel out of God’s hand or pull up the handbrake and rush for the nearest cushy and consumerist gathering and end up seeking out roles of maximum kudos for minimum cost, the safest option.

The truth is following Jesus is either about obedience and faithfulness or disobedience and sin, the problem is that too often we try and give sin and disobedience a sugar coating of religiosity and respectability.

Blackadder sought glory but not the danger, wants recognition without risk, medals without cost, honour without achievement, and reward without sacrifice.

Yet Christianity has never been safe.

Jesus talks of picking up our cross and following him.

Following Christ will cost us everything we have, it is an “everything or nothing choice”.

As I thought about this blog, I wondered about getting David Beckham to make the squash at football matches. It is a job he could do, but it is substantially short of what he is capable of, and leaves the wider body deprived and should short.

Too many are full of potential that they leave deliberately untapped, because -as a proverb says- “many opportunities are missed because they come in overalls and look like work”.

Lets not give God the fag butts of our time, energy, gifting and resources rather than our first fruits.

So, let’s not be like Captains Darling and Blackader trying to slope off the battle-field, but instead bravely give all that we have, our best efforts and richest resources in the service of King Jesus.

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Deep, Discipleship, wide

A journey deep and wide to get a curry…

Shane Claiborne talks about the danger of Church and discipleship “being a mile wide and an inch deep”.

People get obsessed by the numbers of bums on seat, rather than measuring Christ-likeness in our lives.

The challenge is not how many people we can pack into an event, but how many people are changed and transformed by being there.

The fruit of changed lives.

We need to take people not just into the heart of the institution of Church, but into the heart of who Christ is and what it means to follow him.

Other Churches have great paths of discipleship and are rightly relentless in taking people deeper, talking of ‘from milk to meat’, but the only people of these discipleship pathways are those people who are already Christians…

Yet soon this becomes like an exclusive members club or a bit of a Christian ghetto, where Christ is calling them to reach out, meet, engage and build relationships with their community.

Yet the call is too be BOTH deep AND wide.

Let’s look at our model for perfect theology and mission Jesus himself, he attracted a crowd but left them not only with full bellies but food for thought, and yet his whole ministry was of taking people deeper into who he was and what it meant, he did see people fall away with the challenge, so much so that he askd Simon Peter once “are you going to go too?” to which Simon Peter replied “where-else can we go, you have the words of eternal life”.

Yet at the end of his ministry he left the Church in the hands of a small number of people, who in the power of the Holy Spirit, transformed the world, Disciples making disciples.

Yet so often we think of this as a collective Church Strategy, rather than our own personal calling, we are called to be a disciple of Jesus who makes other disciples of Jesus.

A call to be wide and meet people, making connections, a called to breadth.

Yet also a call to depth, and a call to journey with people to Christ and on to maturity in him.

A vicar friend described this as like eating curry, people start eith a Korma and as they enjoy eating curry they move warmer and warmer.

Some Churches and Chritians hit people with vindaloo stuff straight away and unsuprisingly people who don’t know Christ run for cover as they burn their mouths.

Other Churches and Chritians just keep hitting people with Korma and they never experience the full joy of all that a curry can be.

So, let’s graually learn to increase the chilli in our conversations and gently up the spiritual temperature -being deep and wide- as we move people from a korma to vindaloos. b

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