Nothing seems more beautiful than to think about sharing a dinner with guys like Mathew and Simon the Zealot and watching the interplay between these two enemies who will one day recognize each other as brothers.
Jesus first demonstrated his own vulnerabilities to the disciples and confessed his personal need for the Father’s will to be accomplished. The words of the Baptizer, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30) are found in the flesh of Jesus as he explains to his disciples where his food comes from. He demonstrates to his disciples that his nourishment comes from serving the Father’s will. He lays his life down for those to whom the Father has called him. He is not asking anything of his disciples that he is not first willing to live out. He lived in the Father’s will right alongside of those he was also calling as disciples, those he knew would become the disciplers.
One of the most neglected realities in the Scripture is the instruction to submit one to another.
At Adsideo, discipleship is “Life Laid Down.” It is the central component of what it means to be a Christ follower. It is more than a class, it is the common life, where our convictions are communicated and expressed. It is the primary expression of the essence of Christ in the church. It is where the body expresses the life-giving resource of Jesus. It is the life in which his grace and truth become more than conceptual, but where commitment is a living gift one to another. It is where reconciliation becomes not an ideal but the norm. It is where unity is tested, and the Spirit is revealed. It is where life together finds its intersection with its foundational partner of submission. One of the most neglected realities in the Scripture is the instruction to submit one to another. It disrupts and brings down our personal ideals of hyper individualism and invades our right to self-actualize. For westerners desiring discipleship as an authentic expression of their common life, submission is a total disruption of their cultural reflexes.
Dischipleship is practiced at Bresee House
for homeless men.
Practically speaking, our life together looks like this: On Mondays, 13 folks gather for teaching and encouragement as they discover how to serve and prepare to minister hospitality to the neighborhood. These apprentices reflect the qualities of “deacons” in Acts 7. They all have a heart for the kingdom and serve in unique capacities: some remove graffiti in our parish; others organize visits to the senior care facility; still more serve through Adsideo’s neighborhood living room; others are planning the next clean-up along the river on the bike path; and still others serve at the Portland Rescue Mission in the food line and in the chapel service. Not only do these zealots serve actively, they also read voraciously and enter into active discourse because learning comes in combination with experience.
On Sunday nights, about 30 folks gather before our evening gathering to learn about discipleship. We engage an extensive reading list and learning cohorts are of the utmost importance, as we share life with one another. Writing is required of all, and the study of language, etymology, and theology are pursued. We believe that language unites us, and we must labor over communication intensely.
Many of our people are members of Communal Living Houses that practice the physical and spiritual realities of biblical reconciliation on a daily basis. Others participate in the art of community through Common House and Household meetings of Bible Study and other gatherings. We believe that in community we learn the beauty of inconvenience. We are participating in the refiner’s fire, a place where our strengths are exposed and made vulnerable; a place where authentic discourse and confession are a part of the daily rhythm of life. We have gone public with life lived. We have also learned that many choose not to live in this reflection. We understand that and are learning to release and encourage all to live out their convictions in a way that is glorifying and reveals the heart of God.
Jesus encountered a similar culture as he turned his disciples on their cultural edge. How many of us set our personal calendars around the calendar of our local expression of the church? How many consider the needs of others beyond their own needs? How many consider others better than themselves? How many really seek to understand the attitude of Jesus in the everyday common practices of life, and especially when it comes to the body? How many place the household of faith’s needs beyond all else? How many are really seeking to elevate others to the same status of their biological families? How many care for the widows and the orphans? There are many more questions that may be asked. Becoming a disciple of Christ requires that more questions be asked and that responses be lived in ways that reveal the heart of God in everyday situations.
On one hand, we want to embrace the words of Jesus, when he says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). But often, we are blatantly untrue to our commitment to live this life in abandonment to Christ. As much as we desire it, we will never fully comprehend the depth of commitment. For this reason, we believe that we have been called to be disciple-makers one to another, just as Jesus instructed the disciples to love one another as he loved them. A love that never quits, never gives up, always provokes, and is never satisfied, a love that says, “You are not alone.” But also a love that calls us out of despair and a love that is revealing and consuming, a love that saves. We are all in need of Jesus showing up in our lives, as we encourage and admonish one another.
A love that never quits, never gives up, always provokes, and is never satisfied, a love that says, “You are not alone.” But also a love that calls us out of despair and a love that is revealing and consuming, a love that saves.
Occasionally, we are asked, “How do you live like this without burning out?” We simply say that burnout is not possible when Christ is at the center of our efforts and the life we live. We have not suffered to the point of death. We have been called, for this time, to a lifestyle; for us, discipleship is life lived. The world needs us to discover what it means to be his disciples, as we mission through this time and space of the 21st century.
JIM WICKS serves as senior pastor of the Community of Adsideo in Portland, Oregon (www.communityofadsideo.com)