Each semester in my Christian Ethics class, I have a unit on the Ten Commandments. I used to assign a reaction paper in which each student would write on how Ellen White’s exposition of the Decalogue affected his or her understanding of any two out of the final six commandments. The results were predictable yet frustrating: The vast majority of students used Ellen White’s comments to conjure up a near-infinite number of ways a given commandment could be broken, would plead guilty to breaking the command in multiple manners, and then conclude that the commandments were impossible to keep.
Whenever I discuss the cost of discipleship, I have a rather large bias. I suppose it was triggered when reading Oswald Chambers’magnificent devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. One of the central themes that drills throughout his writings is the unavoidability of death in our discipleship to Jesus. Here’s an extended quote from January 15:
There is just no escaping it . . . harvesting is hard work, often involving very long hours under the intense sun in order to bring the crop to market. I experienced this first-hand when I would get up at 1:30 am in the morning in order to load four trucks with twenty-five tons of alfalfa hay each, often under 110 degree heat in the Sacramento Valley of California.
In the teacher’s edition of this week’s lesson study, there is an exercise titled “Jesus Chairs the Nominating Committee.” The instructions are to write the list of current church offices, such as children’s Sabbath School teacher, social activities director, elder, deacon, greeter, church clerk, etc. on a white board for a discussion of how essential these positions are to the mission of the church, and what would Jesus do with a list like this?
Our topic for this week is “Discipling the Nations” and the most obvious place to start is with the Great Commission which is found at the end of Matthew’s gospel. “Go make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) is perhaps its most well known phrase. The Greek word for “nations” here is “ethne” where we get our English word “ethnic” from. Thus the Great Commission goes far beyond the 200 plus nations that are in the world today and encompasses the many thousands of ethnic groups which are currently inhabiting and moving all over the globe.
Who wants to be considered “ordinary”? For many of us, the need to be special, to be noticed, is a great human need – anything except “ordinary.” I would like to suggest that for us to disciple the ordinary, we must first embrace our “ordinariness.” I want to share some of my own story in order to illustrate why many of us struggle with this issue. I was born on a farm, the second of fifteen children. Farm life is certainly an ordinary life in many ways: humble, hardworking and in tune with nature. However, being one of fifteen children does not allow one to re
After being nearly bled and drugged to death, President George Washington on his deathbed feebly requested that he, “be permitted to die without further interruption.”1 In the 18th century the scientific method was still in its infancy and the general populace was treated with a variety of very strong medicines, folklore cures and extended confinement in enclosed rooms. People had a diet high in meat, gravy and spices which often overloaded the system and led to weakness and premature death.