Living Love: Discipleship in Following Jesus

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What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? At the most basic level it means believing he is the incarnate God, the God-Man, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, living according to his summary of the Jewish Law. That means that we must first love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; secondly we must love our neighbour as ourself.

To love God with all we are and have is a big ask! It demands a lot of us. Let us take stewardship as an expression of loving God. This includes tithing, placing before God 10% of our income. Biblically, 100% of all we earn comes from God through the gifts and talents God has given us. As an expression of our love for God and gratitude for all God has bestowed upon us, we return a tenth to God.

Our love for God can grow through our stewardship.

Fasting can be an expression of our love for God. Fasting frees the body for prayer and enables greater communication with God. It is disciplining our appetites and reducing our distractions. We become more available to the presence of God and our relationship deepens. As we dwell in God’s presence, our love for God grows and we experience God’s love for us.

Our love for God can grow through fasting.

Jesus asks us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and even to love our enemy. God is love. The more we dwell in God, the greater our capacity to love God, our neighbour, and even our enemies.

Loving our neighbours and our enemies increases our love for God, and helps us to experience the power of love to overcome hate.

Discipleship prevents us from reducing Christianity to mediocrity. Being a Christian is much more than a cultural identity. Following Jesus Christ has to do with how we live our lives.

We have freedom to follow Jesus or to not follow him. To genuinely follow him is to be fully committed to Christ. Being halfhearted about following Jesus will not allow us to truly know God and God’s transformative power to make our lives really impactful.

Depending on who you listen to, the Church is in a nose-dive decline. Some say that God is calling the Church to something completely new. Others say God is calling us back to basics. Discipleship is basic. It is first principle Christianity—“Come, follow me.”

The Church can be about many things. It can be about a building. It can be about a tradition. It can be about an in-group. It can be about clinging to what is no longer working. It can even be about hate, division, and exclusion.

Discipleship will not be about those things. Instead, it will be about Jesus Christ. It will be about following Jesus and helping others to follow him. It will be about being shaped especially by love and hope. It will be about God and the Kingdom of God. It will be about a quality of life that meets all obstacles with confidence of success. It will be about knowing all will be well, even though we are going through tough times. It will be about knowing that life has purpose, meaning, value, and victory.

Christians can get caught up in things that don’t really matter. We become more attached to bricks and mortar than to the living stones. We get caught up in the earthly mundane, and lose sight of the spiritual domain. Our vision blurs and we don’t see the glory being revealed. We become caught up in our own importance and lose touch with the bigger enterprise of God’s mission. We hold on to what is dying and turn away from what is bursting into life. We can be convinced of being right even though we are wrong.

We have been warned about being a noisy gong. We have been warned about making much of religion and little about love. Christianity is about love. Discipleship is about love. Church is about love. Make any of those about other than love and we are in trouble.

There is a desperate need for love in our world. Jesus is all about love. Indeed, God is all about love. Discipleship is all about love. If a Christian moves away from love of God and neighbour, then there is something terribly wrong. Love is paramount. Not clothed with love, the Christian is not wearing the right garment required to be part of the heavenly banquet.

Where there is love we find God. Where there is hate we have the absence of God.

There is no nose-dive decline for love. The world and our communities are in desperate need of love. God is love. Following Jesus is following the way of love. We gather as Church to grow in love for God and one another. We can gather in a designated sacred space, or in a rented space, or in a home. What matters is that the Church, the followers of Christ, gather and together grow in love for God and neighbour.

Discipleship is basically living out our baptismal vows. Those are first and foremost rooted in love. The Church will always be strong when its members are filled with that self-giving love demonstrated in Jesus Christ and which he demands of all who follow him. A Church made up of people genuinely following Jesus Christ will have a bright future.

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