Happy New Year everyone! I feel I have to say that since I’ve been in hiding for quite some time now, spending time with family and friends. I love blogging, but it’s one of the things I choose to set aside when I need to focus on more important things. The last couple weeks have been spent with my family, unplugging a bit in order to focus on leading our church into the new year. I recently became the new lead pastor at Redwood Hills and we’ve been spending all our time crafting our vision and seeking God’s direction for our faith community. Needless to say…I’ve been very busy!
The past few day I’ve been studying the Scriptures as I begin to take a few weeks to teach on what spiritual formation is and should be for a 21st century church. To be blunt, I think too many Christians have been convinced that discipleship is about some kind of process like reading the Bible in a year…memorizing verses…taking a class…joining a small group…you get the point. The reality is…discipleship is never about a process. It’s a way of life where we are continually learning to see God in every aspect of life and discover our role in it.
Discipleship can’t be formulated…it’s far too mysterious and difficult for that!
Currently, in different parts of the world, Shiite Muslims are celebrating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein… the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Each year they honor this man’s death by beating themselves with chains which are attached to knife blades. They do this until they bleed…and bleed…and bleed.
Most people when seeing this will immediately turn to the next story and disregard these people as crazy extremist who would probably bomb America if they had the chance. But maybe there’s something to learn from these human and passionate beings. Who by the way…probably don’t have bombing at the front of their minds!
When I saw this, I immediately thought of Jesus’ words as he told his followers that if they were to be real and genuine in their faith…they would have to pick up their cross and follow. In their times, any mention of a cross brought nothing but bloody and violent images to their minds. Surely Jesus didn’t mean that they too must be crucified in order to follow Him, but what He most certainly did mean is that they must be willing to throw off all entitlement. Entitlement to comfort, easy faith, and unwillingness to discipline themselves to being people of a different world.
These men who discipline themselves enough to follow what their faith says they must follow may be extreme, but should be acknowledged nonetheless for their devotion. They should also force us to look at our Christian living and examine our devotion to Christ and His way of life.
How much real discipline is being given to our faith right now?
This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. Discipleship is all too often used in such trite and ridiculous ways…it’s no wonder our churches are full of people, but our world wonders where the church is!
I’m realizing more than ever before that true formation will mean that my life will be lived in this world in ways that I never imagined or dreamed of. I guess that’s what Jesus meant when he told His disciples that “a light on a hill cannot be hidden”.
While I’m not going out any time soon to pick up chains and knives…My hope is that I can have enough courage to pick up more of Christ’s cross and carry it with devotion to my Saviour.
Love and Peace.