This month in my Residency at CrossPoint has been busy and challenging. I have had the opportunity and honor to preach twice at the EightTen campus, as well as continue to search for ways to foster a sense of discipleship at the campus. On the 15th I preached on God’s pursuit of his own glory, meaning that God is chiefly concerned with his own glory and righteousness, manifested in his saving goodness of all creation, and the extension of his grace, which he allows and invites us to participate in with him. As baptized members of God’s family, we take on the heart of God for people of all nations and the greatness of his glory. In this we willingly surrender ourselves to him.
On the 22nd I preached about how discipleship is the means by which we extend God’s glory to all nations and enjoy his grace. Based on Jesus’ “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20, since all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, disciples of Jesus are to go make more disciples by baptizing and teaching to observe all that he has commanded. Discipleship is the means by which God will establish his glory throughout all of creation, as evidenced by Jesus spending nearly all of his time teaching and training 12 men before he was crucified. Discipleship is God’s “Plan A,” there is no “Plan B.”
The challenge is that discipleship is extremely labor-intensive. We don’t just stumble into discipleship, it doesn’t automatically happen. It must become a way of life, worked for and thought through every single day until it becomes our nature. My hope is that a few people will take the important step of trying, which will inspire others to try as well. Once we begin to interact with people on a deep, personal, one-to-one basis, God’s heart for individuals will flourish in the community, creating a culture of people who in love seek the needs of individuals around them, inviting them to join God’s family. And this invitation is not just extended for the sake of seeing them at church on Sundays, or feeling a sense of accomplishment for having done what God asks of us, but is extended as a long-term invitation to be a part of their life and the life of the community. This is a discipleship culture, and this is the great hope of a justice-seeking Christian community, or as Martin Luther King Jr. described it, the “Beloved Community.”
Through this I have felt the frustration of seeing what “is” and what “ought to be.” As I read my books for seminary (I am currently taking a class in Christian Ethics, which has been tearing my soul to pieces in repentance) I can’t help but notice that we are a long way off from being exhibitors and practitioners of God’s Kingdom. It’s hard to explain in a few sentences, but in my own life I am discovering just how difficult it is to understand the depths of God’s love for all people since I have been an active part of the oppression of others nearly my entire life.
As a member of the upper-middle class in the wealthiest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen, I’ve found that I have no real concept of injustice, because I’ve never been a victim of it. I don’t know what it’s like to be marginalized, or part of the under-belly of society, and yet, this is who most of Scripture is written by and to. What does it look like to seek justice? What does it mean to do kindness? What would the Bible say if looked at from the other side of oppression, hunger, justice and marginalization, and what are we going to do about it? My hope is that in discipleship there is sanctification, and in sanctification we wrestle with and act upon these serious questions.
God, be with us and transform us in the likeness of your Son, the great model and champion of justice and righteousness. Amen.