This week in the GPS, we will turn our attention to God’s call on all of our lives to be faithful disciples. When I think about discipleship, I tend to hear the resounding sound of Jesus’ voice as he gave the disciples the ultimate “pep talk”—the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
Now, I don’t know about you, but to me this commission is inspiring and compelling. Before I am even done reading these words, I want to get up and do something, anything. Having grown up at the Church of the Resurrection, I know that I am not alone in my fiery desire to get out there and serve—to make a difference in the world. I have no doubt that this passion delights God; the world truly is aching to know the good news of God’s love.
• Pausing here for a moment, I would challenge you to practice the spiritual discipline of imagination. Lately, I have been challenged to think about the way engaging our imaginations can be a form of prayer. If we are to have any hope of being faithful disciples, sharing God’s love with a world longing for it, I believe it is essential that we become dreamers. Ask yourself: What dreams has God given me for God’s people? How can I participate in God’s kingdom being established on earth?
Without undercutting the importance of the call on our lives to be co-laborers with God in God’s great work, at some point in my pursuit of faithful discipleship, I find that I often lose sight of the One who called me. All of a sudden following Jesus becomes about abiding by certain rules, pushing agendas, completing tasks, or even proving my own “faithfulness” to others.
It’s not surprising that many of us may find ourselves feeling this way. Our culture is centered on achievement, success and that which is bigger and better. In my own life, I am often tempted to translate my perfectionist tendencies into my life of discipleship. When I do this, I find myself exhausted, anxious, discontent, angst-y and competitive— after only a few days of trying to change the world.
The question becomes how are we to live a passionate life of discipleship without growing cynical? I think this is a question that we must wrestle with. I have found a suggestion, though, from theologian and activist Clarence Jordan. He writes: “The revolution begins with a call to be a certain kind of person.” As a dreamer, an idealist and a Christian disciple, this quote challenges me. We are called to engage in the work of changing the world, but God’s good work emerges out of us when we live into our calls to become the people God calls us to be. It may seem counterintuitive that investing our lives in prayer somehow results in action, but I believe this to be true.
• So, at this point I invite you to practice the discipline of slowing. Remember that you are loved no matter what you do or leave undone. Take a moment to remember the One who has called you. Then ask yourself: Who is God calling you to be in this season of life? Are you called to focus on becoming more graceful, patient, gentle, peaceful, bold, hopeful? Thank God for being a God who transforms our hearts.
Ultimately, I am thankful that we follow a God who gives us a high calling. I am thankful for the mysterious way that through attending to becoming the people God has called us to be, the Spirit makes us people who are equipped to take part in transforming the world.
–Rev. Katherine Ebling
Pastor of Prayer