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.
When I was a child, I lived in a little village where there’s an Adventist church. On Sabbaths, I’d see the Adventists go to church, neatly dressed, with Bibles in their hand. From our house, I’d hear beautiful music and sometimes I’d beg my mother to be allowed to go. I felt very shy to enter the church.
I must admit that I have a bit of a problem with “prayer.” There are so many slivers of truth about it that have become clichés and left my interest in the topic rather jaded. (God answers prayer with yes, no, or wait; Prayer doesn’t bring God down to us, it brings us up to Him; Prayer is the answer; Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us; Pray without ceasing; Seven days without prayer makes one weak.) I do not get spiritually excited about prayer breakfasts or prayer walks.
Recently I realised that much of my thinking on discipleship has been provoked by metaphors. While metaphors are inherently limited, each one has provided me with one or two facets of discipleship that have remained memorable—the vine of John 15 for intimacy and communion, the Sanctuary for understanding the relationship between being and doing, and the post-exilic brokenness of Jerusalem for the need of building transformational communities. Collectively they have helped to build a framework to help me think about my life as a disciple and discipler.