Friday, January 1, 2010

Discipleship and Discipline

So, it's the first day of a New Year. And it's a fresh start. We've all got the "Starting Monday" syndrome, which is to say that we've suddenly taken on the desire to do more, be more, mean more. We've denied all our weaknesses, forgotten all our shortcomings, and are filled with hope and surety for a new direction.

When Jesus chose his disciples, it was a fresh start for them, too. Jesus was a rabbi, and he took on disciples just as any rabbi would. Except His method of choosing was, well, unconventional at best. Most rabbis chose their disciples according to the pupil's religious fervor, or purity, or dedication to the teachings of the Torah. But Jesus chose those who didn't even know they wanted to be a rabbi's disciple. He simply said, "Follow me." And they did.

But the story doesn't end there. Read through the gospels. Dang, did those disciples mess stuff up. If they had the illusion of a new life free from mistakes and dedicated to perfection, they would have banged their heads against walls for a good three or four chapters.

But the "follow me" part of their journey is what kept them going. Discipleship isn't perfection, it's growth. It is following Jesus' teaching, and dealing with consequences when we mess up. It's asking for forgiveness, and continuing to sit at His feet.

One of my Facebook "friends" (for what that's worth) spoke of his new positivity. He said he woke up on this first morning of 2010 singing a new song -- literally. He walked over to the mirror to perform his morning groom, and realized he was singing. He said that this year, he'll be "a whole new me". That's great, and I hope his year is filled with joy, but it's important to remember that the positively-charged "Starting Monday" syndrome is temporary. After all the talk of resolutions, and new beginnings, we've got to put one foot in front of the other. We've got to actually live life, and deal with unpleasant people and situations. We've got to love our neighbor and try to promote justice.

Being a disciple of Jesus is a clean slate. Don't get me wrong. But it's a clean slate that requires discipline, and forgiveness. It's asking for a clean slate every morning, not just once a year. And it's following Him daily, but never actually arriving. It's a process.

So, as I make my resolutions for the year, instead of doing my normal thing -- deciding what I'm going to do, what I'm going to be better at -- I'll ask Him what He would have me do, and I'll ask Him to make me better for His kingdom's sake. I realize that asking for God's discipline is a dangerous thing. But I also know it will make me a better disciple.

God, allow me the privilege to sit at Your feet, that I might learn more. Allow me also the privilege to get up and walk in Your footsteps, so that the work might be done.

1 comment:

  1. A GOOD word. At first, a hard word. But when surrender comes, a welcome word.