Devotion Twenty Four
In this season of Lent, we are concerned with re-turning our lives to God. Making the slight adjustments and drastic shifts needed to more fully live out the Love within us. And we look to Jesus to show us the way. The way to turn, what it means to live life in God and God’s dream. We look to Jesus for the teaching and modeling of what it means to live a godly life.
It is interesting that those who follow Jesus are referred to a disciples. One aspect being a disciple includes adhering to a certain doctrine. Accepting certain beliefs. We can talk about this as believing in Jesus. But when you dig deeper into the meaning of the word disciple, it comes from a root used for the word pupil and learner. So a disciple is someone who is being taught, learning something. This implies an area of study and a body of knowledge or a skill set that is being acquired. This we can think of as believing Jesus. Trusting what he is teaching us about how to live and how to be in community.
Another aspect of the understanding of the word disciple is related to the word discipline. Unfortunately, discipline is often used to describe punishment. There is no punishment involved in following Jesus except what we inflict on ourselves through neglect or poor choices. But the word discipline also involves the meaning of self control. Of paying attention and taking responsibility for our behavior and actions and words. Self control is something that is very much needed by those following Jesus. Not just so we can hold ourselves back from, say, stealing or cheating, but so that we become careful and measured in our speech and in our spending and in our use of time and in our awareness of the affects of our behaviors and words – on other people and on the natural environment.
Discipline is needed in the process of training. It is needed to acquire new skills and abilities. It is needed to mould character. It takes discipline to learn to play a musical instrument, for instance. It takes discipline to become proficient at a sport. It takes dedicated, methodical, intentional study and practice. Well, it’s like that with discipleship.
We seek to be disciples of Jesus. There is much for us to learn. There is much effort involved. There are wrong turns along the way. And the wildness of mercy drawing us back. We see the disciples in the gospels botching things right and left. It is not easy to re-orient your thinking and your behavior to the ways of the God of love in this crazy, misguided world.
So, if someone asks me. “Are you a follower of Jesus?” what will I say? “I’m learning.” What about you?
We are grateful for the life-giving way of Jesus especially when we see the ways of death taking their toll around us. May we keep focusing on Jesus and his light. May we keep our eyes fixed on the path of Love. May we learn and practice and grow in our ability to reflect Divine Love in the world, especially where it is darkest. Amen.