Monday, September 23, 2013
The transformed mind of the disciple
WHAT does it mean to answer the call to follow and become like Jesus? Our call is to be changed – and changing – in the ways that transform us into disciples, and then be in a position to encourage others likewise. We want to grow as disciples who see others become disciples, and our communities changed as a result.
– Discuss this: We want to grow as disciples who see others become disciples, and our communities changed as a result. Do you agree? How do we do this?
Bill Hull, who has written extensively on discipleship (http://www.billhull.net/choose_the_life), says* that he sees six transformations: mind, character, relationships, habits, service and influence. As we gear up for Alpha, this lands right where we are: limbering up as disciples-in-training ourselves, and praying for others we want to see come to know Jesus and join us on that path.
BELIEVE WHAT JESUS BELIEVED
Believing in Jesus is one thing, but believing what Jesus believed is something else. That is the transformation – coming to think and feel what Jesus does (the Bible calls it having the mind of Christ).
– Where are you on the scale, from believing in Jesus, to believing what Jesus believed?
As we at Speen Church prepare to discuss ‘Questions of Life’ in the context of Alpha, let’s ask what Jesus believed about life. What was important to Him?
The Gospels contain stories about how Jesus came face to face with life: the poor, the sick, the unforgiven – and the self-righteous. It starts with believing what He believe, so we can live how He lived and connect with people the way He connected. Later, Paul wrote to the church in Rome, teaching them that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2).
The teaching of Jesus that is most like our kind of sermon is, of course, the Sermon on the Mount, sometimes described as the 15-minute sermon that changed the world. Certainly Albert Schweitzer, Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King found it transformational for them.In this teaching Jesus spelt out:
WHAT THE GOOD LIFE IS NOT
Unlike the world’s values, competence is not in focus. Neither is looking out for number one, fighting for our rights, avoiding suffering and staying out of the line of fire. Nor is expecting an absence of external conflict. None of this has value in God’s kingdom.
WHAT THE GOOD LIFE IS
Being a disciple is an attitude, and the Beatitudes give us the core of how to live from a satisfied spiritual centre whose fundamental trait is humility. There is a different worldview portrayed here that believes that character and its influence are of the highest value, and worth suffering for – “Rejoice and be glad” (Matt. 5:12).
INFLUENCE IS BASED ON CHARACTER
Jesus didn’t advocate wonderful ideas and persuasive speech. Instead His commission was simple: let them see your good deeds: ”You are the salt of the earth… the light of the world.” It’s the character that is like a shining city on a hill, where the light from your life penetrates the darkness around.
This is what Jesus modelled for us to follow. He did healing and miracles, but His greatest power was the love and humility that radiated from Him. You may not feel ready to move people with great oratory or signs following, but everyone can love. This is living the good life.
SPIRITUAL GREATNESS IS LIVING GOD’S KINGDOM
A disciple is gaining the capacity to see the world through God’s eyes and work out what He regards as righteous.
Matt. 5:19-20 speaks of practising and teaching what Jesus practised and taught. Kingdom greatness, He said, was practising from the heart the principles of the law as redefined by Jesus, not just a series of legalistic rules.
Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees memorised the law but they didn’t get it – instead they worked out imaginative ways not to practise it. It was an extreme case of head and not heart.
FAITH MEANS DOING THE WILL OF JESUS
Jesus is blunt in challenging our cerebral understanding of ‘faith in words’ – words that have been debated over the centuries and often set aside because of their apparently confusing nature. It confronts head on our tendency to see faith as an agreement with scripture’s propositions without taking attitudes and behaviour into account.
– How is your faith seen by others? In what you tell them you believe, or what you show them that is different about you?
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven…
Non-faith, Jesus said, was building our lives on the wrong foundation, but faith is like the man who built his house on the rock (7:24-25). How do we do that?
It’s about making choices, and positioning our lives – our attitudes, values and consequently our actions – in a way that we can say is Jesus’ way. A Christian spirituality – the hallmark of a disciple – must have that dimension of actually living it out from good choices so that people can see Jesus, see His light, shining through us. It starts with a Holy Spirit-renewed mind.
*Bill Hull: The Complete Book of Discipleship ISBN 978-1-57683-897-6