Discipleship and Servanthood at 3 am

It’s 11:30 pm. I’ve been wanting to sleep since I got up this morning. It’s also shift change. A brand new, wide awake nurse comes in to introduce herself, tell us what the rest of the night holds, and to check vitals on my son. I push aside the desire to pretend I’m asleep aside. I listen to her story. I make eye contact. I thank her for keeping the night watch. I put her first.

It’s 3 am. My son needs me. So I get up. I help. I comfort. Ignoring the fact that he is my son, he hasn’t done anything to deserve it. Of course, he hasn’t done anything to not deserve it. I put him first.

It’s 4 am. The nurse comes in to check my son’s vitals. My body says roll over. My mind screams, why check vitals in the middle of the oh-dark-thirty morning? So I get up. I help. I engage. I put her first.

I share this with you, not for human praise. I don’t want it. I am not perfect. Far, far from it.

I choose to live out my discipleship by serving. Jesus served me when he put me first, when he went to the cross.

I lie back down, I utter a prayer, “thank you Jesus, for making me first in your life.”

I fall asleep knowing that I am loved, and that is why I love. I fall asleep knowing that God’s comfort for me is found in Him and that is why I comfort others. I fall asleep being held by serving hands that have served me many times over, and that is why I serve.

To many my words may seem trite. To others, too touchy/feely. But the disciple-who has come to the part in the journey of “being” with the Trinity, understands that the “being” informs the “doing.”

Left to our own motivation, if it were up to my good intentions, serving would happen when it was/is convenient.

In a world distracted by Satan with busyness, servanthood becomes optional. In this world the servanthood of discipleship becomes something we can do if it is easy, fun, low commitment and is convenient to our schedule.

Jesus does not call us to a convenient discipleship.

If a journey of comfort [as the world defines it] is what you seek, then do not follow Jesus.

If serving others is an option for you to choose, you do not follow Jesus.

Jesus is not interested in fitting into our schedule. Jesus is the schedule. His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Rick Warren is fond of saying that “God is more interested in your character than in your comfort.” There is truth there.

A cursory reading of the Bible finds that the people God chooses to use, are rarely called to a life of comfort and convenience.

By following Jesus, will you know comfort? Yes. Will the comfort our Rabbi grants to us match the worldly definition of comfort? Most likely not.

By following Jesus, will it be convenient? Not unless we learn to “be” in Christ on the journey.

If you are interested in being just a good person, by all means, please continue to occasionally don the towel of servanthood, when you feel like it and it is convenient.

If you are, if I am, interested in being a disciple of Jesus, being covered in the dust of our Rabbi, then servanthood is a way of living out our “doing” because our character has been shaped by the time spent “being” served by our loving Lord.

Discipleship – Wanting What God Wants More

“I don’t want to do this.” A phrase uttered by a 15 year old boy/man.
Pretty typical fare for a teenager.
A statement of fact, borne of his will, declared many times across a decade and a half.
But this time it’s different.
Because this time it’s from my son, as he dry heaves after receiving chemo.
A span of fifteen days – a hurricane of emotions – biopsy of his left eye, stitches, PET scan, MRI scan, CT scan, two bone marrow taps, a spinal tap, central port, diagnosis: stage four LYMPHOMA and now chemo.
How much can the human body take?
Is my son’s ability to endure the pain up to the task?
Do I have the resolve to stay the course even as I watch others crumble?
Even when the situational news changes by the hour?

Lord, this is hard!
I can’t take his pain for him.
I am unable to step in and protect him.
A hug and a kiss will not solve or bring salve, like they did for hundreds of knee scrapes before.
Jesus, I don’t want this for my son, my wife, my other sons… My son’s words become mine, “I don’t want to do this.”

Father God, is this a glimpse of what you felt as you heard your Son, that betraying night in the garden?
Father God, how did you hold back your angels, as your son’s body was racked with pain?
It is no wonder that the earth quaked, rocks were split, a veil was torn, and your power was released to others who had already tasted death.

I don’t have that power.
I’m just a dad.
A sinner.
Yet a child, yet chosen.
A dusty disciple.
A follower of my rabbi, Jesus.

In life’s pain, you may not be there, because I barely am. But my Jesus, after saying, “I don’t want to do this.” Also said, “not my will but Yours be done.”

This is the mark of true disciples. We are real with God. We have a relationship that allows us to be angry, ask questions, express pain! We also seek answers, reflect on scripture, discern the horizon for wisdom, and we lean, heavily, on our brothers and sisters in the journey of faith.

We want what we want, but can we willingly say, “God, I want what You want more? I don’t want to do this….but I will.”

Full of Grace & Truth in our Neighborhood = Discipleship

John 1:14 NIV “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14 MSG “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one–of–a–kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

Discipleship is all about becoming more like Jesus. Contrary to most current Christian “religions” where following Jesus has been reduced to belief, this is translated into all I have to do is believe in my mind the right things. Contrast this to real discipleship that espouses a fides in libro actio (faithfulness in word and deed).

John 1:14 tells us about the person and deity of Jesus, who we are striving to be like. From this translation and paraphrase we gain insight into three important parts of discipleship; relationships, grace and truth.

One of the blogs that I follow, Conversation for Transformation, by Casey Tygrett, had this to say about truth:

    It makes me feel better to sit secure in my rightness and “truth” you from afar, than to actually understand you as imago dei (created in the image of God), just like me, and sit with you for a while until the truth comes out.

    So here’s a suggestion: if we are going to do truth in the context of love, then we shouldn’t try and “truth” someone that we can’t have coffee with. We shouldn’t truth someone that we can’t talk to about their story, that we can’t listen to well and learn where they may be coming from.

You can read the full blog here: Why Love is Harder Than Truth

Most often the church likes to gravitate toward “truth” because it is easier. It is much easier to speak against homosexuality than it is to face your son or daughter who has come out of hiding. It is much easier to speak against abortion than it is to build a relationship with a young woman who has bought into the lies of the world about body image, sexuality, responsibility and individual rights. It is much easier to speak truth to strangers and people I don’t know, because I do not have a relationship with them. Showing grace is really needed in the context of building relationships. Relationships only happen when we are honest over extended periods of time.

Jesus, made his dwelling with us. He moved into our neighborhood. From His vantage point of a perfect relationship with the Father and Spirit, He build relationships with humans to model for us what relationships are. Jesus then fully embodied grace for a hurting humanity and truth that an enslaved humanity needed to be free.

In our discipleship journey, where have we “moved into someone’s neighborhood” simply because we care about them? Discipleship looks like this: We care so much for Jesus, that we care for them. We begin to build that relationship. We know that truth/Jesus would move into their lives if he were here, but we know that He has us, so we exercise our grace/Jesus and move in.

In our discipleship journey, where are speaking truth from afar because of the difficulty of practicing grace up close?

In our discipleship journey, where are we failing to speak truth because of the difficulty of not having a strong enough relationship?

As always, I welcome your comments and questions as we journey together to become more like Jesus.