Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
I just have this feeling that we are missing something big.
Have we allowed the simple, relational beauty, the earthy challenge of this call to slip into the sidelines in our scramble to make our churches more “easily accessible”?
Now, obviously, being accessible to those who don’t follow Jesus is hugely important. We’re told to “go” in Jesus’ famous last-words-before-ascension – but often I feel we can soften church services to the extent that we shy away from offering the true mystery, the depth, the smell, if you like, of God’s truth at the centre.
A tragedy that tugs my heart whenever I hear it is when a Christian asks “isn’t there more to life than this?” Personally, I know that I didn't come to faith because of slick multimedia on a screen, nor the latest Christian-hit-factory album, or even a stonking good preach, but because of the personal investment of one or two individuals. They challenged me, taught me, and supported me through those baby steps. I remember when I was first mentored, a privilege that I've already waxed lyrical about, the excitement and the challenge that I had to really apply that Christ-living to my life; to my failings and fallen hopes; to my questions and glimpses of possible futures. Being taken deeper in living for Christ meant everything to my early steps of discipleship and without it I don't know if I'd have continued crawling, let alone begun to walk.
I think we’re missing something - Jesus told us to make disciples. Not converts, nor simply the “evangelised”, but those who would get into a rhythm of obedience to Him, submission to Him, daily-dying to themselves to seek first His Kingdom, all in full trust that in doing this they’re actually fulfilling their unique created purpose and inviting in the One who can fulfil more than any activity or consumable this world can offer.
I have the privilege of working on UCB’s Word 4U 2Day, a daily devotional magazine that provides a short daily reading, based on a Bible verse, and a daily practical “go and do something about this” kicker at the end. I mention this because the foundation of daily devotionals (Word 4U 2Day included) is all about that dedication to God: that active, broken-out-of-just-consuming, hungering after God, that makes time every morning to put your head into the right place before facing the trials that await you, going deeper into His word (heck, we even run a monthly free in-depth Bible-study in Word 4U 2Day called “GoingDeeper”. We’ve been calling people into that deeper engagement with faith for ten years - our 10th anniversary edition comes out this August-October (available free here). (Heads up, we’ve grown up a bit in recent years - we’d love to think it’s now less “high school cheese” and more “student age/first-jobber level banter”).
If going to church on a Sunday is all there is to your “walk” - if you’re not digging into your relationship with Jesus the rest of the time - you’re missing out. Word 4U 2Day exists to support your time with your Bible. We’d love to do what we can to help your study of His word and Him, your Christ-pupilage, your discipleship.
In short, I personally want to see more disciples in our Churches. And I think making that happen is the responsibility of us all. One way to help might be a devotional magazine that lifts your gaze (or challenges your backside) every day. If so, Word 4U 2Day would be happy to oblige.
Word 4U 2Day is available for free in print at www.ucb.co.uk/signup/w4u
Today's blog is brought to you by the brilliant Jim Cronin from UCB...