A lesson in “why discipling”

 

There was a Man who provided a service. He was very knowledgeable, very experienced and very connected. He advertised, for how else would anyone know he even existed? He advertised in the places people would look for his services. And one day he received a distressed call. Someone who needed help. Someone let down by another “expert”. Someone who was paying the cost for the expert not being the expert he said he was.

This Man went to see the person in distress. And immediately saw why there was distress. The expert was indeed no expert at all. And the person in distress was right to be distressed. This Man listened to a tale of woe he had heard many times. He advised as he had advised many times. He took photographs as he had many times. But this Man could not make the past different. He could only make the future different. And the person in distress was no longer distressed – he was now angry – the “expert” had been proved to be no expert at all – and to put right the wrong would cost more money. The Man had also heard that anger many times.

The person in ex-distress and now ex-anger thanked the Man, and then set about researching the Man’s credentials – and found them to be good everywhere he looked. The Man indeed seemed to be the expert he claimed. So the job was agreed, and the job was done. By other Men who were indeed skilled at their different jobs. Men who had a pride in doing their different jobs to a very high standard. They were indeed good Men in the image of the Man.

The end.

 

That is a true story. The firm is a real firm. The job was a real job. And the job (done second time around) was to a very high standard.

 

It struck me that “the firm” – each person – was as good as the Man (the boss): each person had a job – each person understood their own job – each person knew the jobs of others and how all the different jobs fitted together. And I learned that each was valued by the boss, and each was necessary to the boss (and each other). Each had the skills, experience, tools and right attitude to do “the job” properly. And the pride in doing a good job was not for my benefit , not for their boss – it just “was” in each.

And the boss was absent a lot of the time. And there were no calls to reassure or enquire. He simply popped in on two occasions over one week. On both occasions his visit was not to impress me, it was to talk to his crew. The entire job was done to the very high standard, to the agreed price (including some details not included in the quote (and not charged either), and to the agreed schedule. All was as promised. And those details along the way … each was agreed as it happened. And that left a great impression.

Each of the crew was entrusted with the authority to change/adapt/amend his own bit without reference to the boss. I think it was because each had the same pride in their bit, and – as importantly – of the whole. Each knew they were part of the whole – and each worked their bit to achieve the whole. That was how they did things – it was that simple for each of them.

 

And – without any of us talking about God or no-God, church or no-church … I was given a fantastic living and real lesson in why disciples and “why discipling”.

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My letter to my addiction

NEWSFLASH: I will be “still human” my whole life.
“I cannot – so you must not”

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This morning I found writing pouring out on that same theme. Because I am finding I can embrace that – I want to embrace that – I am beginning to think we must all embrace that. And I think that Christians are those in most urgent need.

Christians who are taught that they die to self. That they have been reborn. That they are in this world but of not of this world (anymore). Christians who might be said to believe that being human is a sin. Christians who have so many religious traditions which reinforce the sin AND excuse the sin of “being human”.

I am curious – what is your response to my letter to my addiction?

Thank you

Paul

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Just me being curious

Inspired by Melissa Presser’s –God in in your typewriter– post today:
My letter to your addiction

Here is my letter to my addiction …

😦  😦  😦  😦  😦  😦  😦  😦

Dear Other Me –

We don’t get along, and I guess we never will. I don’t really want you to go away, and you don’t care what I want.  So I try to keep you hidden, and you fight me every inch of the way. You refuse to listen, so I give up telling.

We have a relationship based on need – and no matter how much I talk about love and no need – you are there.  Needing me to need you.  And I do need you.

Your face changes.  Your tastes change.  Your cost changes.  Because you always have a cost.  And I always pay.  So let’s admit the cost of you in…

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Church is simple. But it isn’t.

I spent many years thinking “IT” was simple. Unlike science, the arts, medicine, romance and love.  “IT” was computers.  That’s all.  Simple.  And even though I never understood computers – I knew what “IT” was.

And then I found I didn’t.

IT is not “computers”. IT is lots of things others than computers. Networks, programming, data management, servers, patch panels, coding, testing, AND helpdesks.  “IT” is as diverse as science and medicine and romance and love.

Which makes it simpler and more complicated – both at the same time.

“When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!” ” Luke 11:29-32

I used to be guilty of that same “thinking” with Church: Church is simple.  God is simple.  Love is simple.  So Church – which is all of that is also simple:

“See, something greater than Jonah is here!”

So simple, that – God in the Old Testament, and God Soft Hands Jesus in the New Testament – both say it – time after time after time after …

And then I found it wasn’t.

The first time around Church never hurt me. The first time around (at fourteen years of age) I decided I was “acting” at being a Good Christian – and I walked away from Church (and developed a knowing disdain in the decades which followed).  What I never really understood (or if I did, never cared enough to really “get”) – was that “Church” is people.  Church is ONLY people.  Just  as “IT” or “science” or “the arts” or “medicine” is all about “people”.

Church is simple. But it isn’t.  Church is people.  But it isn’t.  Church is love.  But it isn’t.  Church is all are welcome.  But all are not.

“See, something greater than Jonah is here!”

Church is relationship.  And our relationship with God is just the tip of the iceberg.  The one with “people” is the rest.  And people need (even though unconditional love doesn’t). People do need (and love does not).  People need to feel safe.  People need to be heard.  People need to know they matter.  People NEED to matter.  And to God we do. To God we can do no wrong.  Not a wrong that means He cuts us off.  That He rejects us for.  That He never speaks to us again because of.  That He gives up on us for.  But people do that to people.

The bible is stuffed full of people giving up on God and each other. And how God never gives up on anyone.  Ever.

“Make disciples of all nations.”

Is that why “this bit” is often quoted but rarely delivered? Because we give up on each other so quickly … because we “spend our love” as we spend our money … on special things and special people?  And “People of Church” do the same – spend on the people who see things (and God) just as I do – the ones who will also “spend theirs” with me?  And if “they” don’t … ?  We BOTH choose to walk away. People letting people down.

The “second time around” Church has taught me this.

That, if “making disciples” was always top of the list – we would never give up on each other. And we would find ourselves (surprise, surprise) doing that “other bit” … the “Through this they will know you are my disciples” bit.  The “unconditional love in reality” bit.

Because if unconditional love “works” for me and God – but ONLY with you so long as you agree with me … Then we will screw each other and God every time.

Which brings me to the “unspoken prayer” I have been taught the second time around …

“We pray you bring light and wonder to the lost and lonely, dear Father. We ask that you heal the hurting, dear God.  We fall at Your feet in wonder and awe.  We worship You.  We love You as you Love us.  And we pray for the fallen.  We pray for the un-churched.  We bring our petition to you and ask this for others.  But for myself … just a mere trifle … a small detail you can so easily grant.  Release me from the burden of making disciples in my own church.  It takes so much time.  And I have so many more urgent things to do for You (otherwise You know  I wouldn’t even ask at all).  You know me, dear Father – I am Yours!  So thank you dear Father – in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

What is that other “bit” we all say … ?

Be careful what you wish for …

 

>> and a PostScript – a PS:

You might want to pop across to Just Me Being Curious and  – “My naked God Soft Hands Jesus” – also written today.  These (three) posts seem to be as one: this post, one by Don Merritt, and now “My naked GSHJ”.  Over to you …  

🙂