Radical Discipleship 101 – Part I
Posted on July 3, 2009
I’ve been asked to write some website material for a Christian conference in 2010. I thought I would post the 6 sections here and see what response I get. The audience for the website is likely to be Christians who are attracted to justice but haven’t heard much of the theology behind it; this is entry level radical discipleship.
‘I’ve never heard about this kind of Gospel, where does it come from?’
Jesus came into this world a vulnerable baby; poor shepherds witnessed his coming and a king massacred children to prevent it. He proclaimed that ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to declare good news to the poor’. In his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated all that prevents us from loving our neighbour, whether around the corner or across the globe. He invites the powerful to give up their power, and join with the powerless in building God’s heaven on earth. He invites us to take up his cross of compassion, justice & truth, whatever the consequences.
This gospel is not a fad or an innovation, but old and radical – from the Latin radix – ‘root’. The roots of this good news reach down deep and strong to a river of justice, and everlasting stream of compassion and truth. There are many swimmers in this river. Swimmers like Paul, preaching truth to the powerful and exhorting rich churches to look out for the needs of the poor; the hermits who fled the corruption of the church to start anew in the deserts; John Chrysostom (left), the bishop of the 3rd century who sold the riches of his church to ransom slaves, and paid the price in martyrdom; Francis of Assisi, who joyfully gave up all his privilege, wealth and even his clothes to follow Jesus; Bartoleme de las Casas, who defended South American Indians against the rapacious greed of Spanish Conquistadors.
The source of this river is Jesus, from whose heart flows compassion for all, and especially for those who are oppressed, in poverty and in need. When we choose to follow Jesus, the same compassion grows in us.