Hi, it’s Mick here and welcome to Friday’s Podcast. Next week our Podcast reboot with six selected weeks from the past year – tune in as it will be great fun to revisit this teaching. Our aim in this week’s Podcasts has been to help us reflect on our relationship with Jesus . LOOK to him, BE with him, LEARN from him and TRUST in him. Today we finish our week by reflecting on what it means as his disciples to FOLLOW Jesus.
In the first chapter of Marks gospel we hear Jesus telling his not quite yet followers in 1:15 that ‘the time has come, the Kingdom of God is here, repent (turn back to God) and believe (have faith) in the Good News’. He then goes on to make this life changing invitation in v17:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Jesus just doesn’t call them to follow; he says this extraordinary thing that he will make them ‘fishers of people’. Their faith, their story, their very lives will become so attractive and inspiring that others will be drawn to them and through them, Jesus will begin his world changing movement of forgiveness and love. This is our testimony (Mick & Tricia) – friends inviting us to follow Jesus.
So, we FOLLOW Jesus and call others to FOLLOW Jesus – that’s the plan!
So how do we do this? Three truths to reflect upon today
First, Ordinary People can BE Disciples
If you are part of the STC family you will have heard this many times, but it’s worth repeating – a disciple is an apprentice of Jesus. An apprentice puts teaching into practice – they make things real. We see what Jesus did, we hear what Jesus said and we the go and do and say the same as he did. This is a Biblical disciple. The wider church over many decades, primarily through poor teaching and example set by its leaders, has set such a low bar of what it means to follow Jesus; that being in church for an hour on a Sunday, singing a few hymns and feeling at peace is enough. It’s not! The primary call for all who receive Jesus is to follow him and be his apprentice; to learn his ways, put them into practice and so change the world. This is not for an elite few or for a priestly caste but for ordinary people like you and me.
Secondly, Ordinary People can GROW as Disciples
Not much to say here except keep going with the Grow Project. The feedback stories from the first two terms have been amazing; as our communities have begun to engage with this material our church family has started to Grow deeper into Christ. It was launched in January and had a slow beginning! Questions like ‘not another course/ why are we doing this/ we know these things already’. The breakthrough came for many, I believe, when Jonny Cassidy (not to embarrass him!) encouraged us to not over analyse or critique the material but simply ask “What is Jesus saying to me, what am I going to do about it and importantly, who is going to hold me accountable for this?”. We can Grow as disciples. Get ready, the third term begins in September!
Thirdly, Ordinary People can MAKE Disciples
D.L. Moody, the great American evangelist, once said, “If this world is going to be reached [with the gospel], I am convinced it must be done by men and women of average talent.” Most of us are ‘of average talent’ – myself included! Over the years church leaders have expected little from men and woman of average talent. Our expectations have often been that our people come to a Sunday service and give money to keep the church going – but not much more. This has left so many followers of Jesus unmotivated and disillusioned.
Not so with Jesus! He expected a lot from his ordinary disciples – his apprentices. He expected them to preach the gospel, cast out evil, heal the sick, serve the poor, love the lost and proclaim the Kingdom of God. In fact, he expected them to do what he did, and “even greater things” (Jn. 12:11). Jesus had a high bar of expectation for his very ordinary disciples. So should we! As a church leader I am constantly reminded that I must not expect less of Jesus’ people than he did! Jesus believes we can do this.
As I look around our church family and as a team we hear the people’s stories it’s so obvious that ordinary people with supposed ordinary talent at STC are becoming champion disciple makers! It takes time to get going – I’ve said before that you can’t microwave discipleship, it’s a slow cook on a low heat! STC is full of ordinary people and ordinary people make great disciple makers! Our theme at the Summer Gatherings this year is ‘Open Table’ – Godly hospitality. Why not invite a friend or colleague along and then keep the connection? It could be the beginning of their discipleship walk with Jesus.
Our nation is in a challenging place at the moment with great divisions, many people struggling and, it often seems, little positive hope for the future. It also seems that the church of Jesus has no answers. Not so! Jesus has all the answers – we just need to pray them out of heaven and put them into practice as his disciples. An American pastor called John Mark Comer (as seen on Grow!) said this: “If you want to experience the life of Jesus, you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.” Do what he did and say what he said – that’s what disciples do, that’s our vision at STC. Start small and see what happens! Have a great summer…
Lord Jesus, thank you for calling me to follow you. I commit myself again today to this wonderful calling. Show me how, by my words, my actions, my community and my life I can offer your invitation to other to follow you also. Bless my day in your service. Amen