Sunday, August 3, 2008

Discipleship and bruised reeds

Heard a good sermon in church today about what discipleship is, and perhaps more importantly what it is not. The preacher contrasted disciples and converts. An interesting distinction to be sure, and one that I like, now that I've heard it.

He made the point that in today's churches, we often focus on converting people to Christianity, to get them on "our team" but spend little to no time working on discipling them. It reminded me of my class in Mark, and how the paper I wrote for that class was about true discipleship involving taking up your cross.

So I started thinking about that passage again. I think it was Mark 8 (it's on my other computer and I'm too lazy to look it up right now.) It made me start thinking about what does discipleship look like for "bruised reeds"?

In reality, discipleship for bruised reeds looks identical to all other people. The difference is, that a lot of bruised reeds get turned off by the word "discipleship." Because there is the connotation that discipleship means "read your Bible, pray, give, fast, and serve." And a lot of bruised reeds (not all) get overwhelmed by that. I don't get too overwhelmed because I'm very task oriented. Which might be equally bad, because I think I'm being a disciple SIMPLY by reading, praying etc.

One of the dangers of this false discipleship is that people who take it upon themselves to fix their problems, such as cussing, end up falling harder when they fail. How often have you heard the case where someone being discipled is told "now that you're a Christian, you need to X"? So what does the new convert do? They go home and set up goals for themselves. They say things like "I won't cuss today." And they work really hard at it, what happens? They cuss, then they beat themselves up, and confirm in their mind that they aren't really a Christian because Christians don't cuss.

True discipleship involves becoming like Christ, true. However, true discipleship allows Christ to work in you to make you like himself, not you working to make yourself like him. That's great news for bruised reeds, because now they don't have to do anything. They simply have to be and allow Christ to do what needs to be done.


bobbi jo said...

"They simply have to be and allow Christ to do what needs to be done."

This reminds me of an old Amy Grant song,

" me always keep in mind, that I only have to do what I can find and all I ever have to be, is what you made (in) me."

Nate said...

That's a good point. Something I was thinking the other night. Christ knew me, and more importantly, accepted me, with all my problems.

Sometimes we might enter into a relationship knowing it is going to be messy, but we never know the extent, and often times if we did, we might stay away.

However, Christ knows us in all our messiness and accepts us anyway.