Radical Discipleship 101 – Part II
Posted on July 5, 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’m not convinced, isn’t this just for a few who are ‘called’?
In one of Jesus’ most confronting parables, He says that when we visit the sick and imprisoned, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger, we actually do these things to Jesus Himself. That is, Jesus is present in all who are poor and oppressed, and when we serve them we also serve Him.
But our culture teaches us to believe that this work is best done by experts who really ‘know what they are doing’, as though poverty is a leaky tap to be fixed. Our role is to support the professionals through taxes and donations. But the parable claims that serving the poor is not a task to be completed but participation in the life of God! In serving those on the margins, we have the privilege & opportunity of encountering Jesus in the flesh. If we only pay others to do this work, and do not get involved personally, we are giving up this opportunity.
Sure, not everyone is called to live in a slum, but everyone is called to enter hard places with no weapon but love. Certainly, not everyone will sell all their possessions, but Jesus reminds us that what we have is not ours, and has been given to us by God for the sake of others. Definitely, not everyone is called to abject poverty, but we are all called to get involved personally in the lives of the poor & oppressed.
God sent Jesus, as vulnerable baby, into a world of pain, confusion and injustice. Jesus said to his followers, “As God sent me, so I send you”. We are sent by Jesus, as He was sent by God, into unfamiliar and difficult places, with nothing to lean on but His love. This is not a call for the special or the few, but for all. Following Jesus is not a matter of standing on the banks, cheering on those who are swimming. God wants us all to submerge ourselves in the river of compassion and justice, where we experience not only the pain of serving Him, but the joy of finding God amongst those who have been abandoned.