As SCM "goes regional" each regional member of staff has their own national focus - mine is events. This means I now have a really long and snazzy job title, Regional Development Worker (North West) and Events Lead. This isn't my first fancy job title. My first ever job was Youth Ministry Coordinator (Discipleship). I loved that job but it did leave me with a dilemma - I wasn't sure what discipleship really was!
During my time there discipleship often meant doing what no one else wanted to do. I ran days on the Bible and prayer, I organised the summer trips to Christian festivals and I catalogued the office library so youth leaders could borrow the resources. None of these on their own really summed up what discipleship is.
Luckily, early on in my time there, I was sent to a Youth Work Conference and someone used Matthew 16 to explain discipleship and that is the Bible passage I've pinned my theory to ever since.
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
- So first of all Simon finds out who Jesus is. Jesus even points out this isn't him working it out but Jesus' divine nature is revealed to Simon.
- Then Simon is renamed Peter.
- Finally Jesus tells Peter what he is going to do.
For me that is all it is. Knowing who Jesus is, knowing who you are and then knowing what you are going to do about it. Simple hey?!
Now, I realise those three questions are a lifetime of work - to explore and get to know God, to seek who you are and to discern and act on what that is going to mean. That for me is our discipleship journey.
My church is taking part in Bible Month and this year we are immersed in the story of Jonah. Jonah is a "bad" prophet, he does everything he can to not do as he's told. He knows who God is, he quotes other Bible language when explaining God. Jonah 4:2 includes the well known verse, "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love." He explains to the sailors in Jonah 1 that he is running away from The God and not just any god, but he says, "I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) so he didn't always remember what he knows about God when he tries to escape. So Jonah knows who God is, and even knows who he is, and what he does is try to run away from what he is meant to do about it.
But Jonah is the must unsuccessful non-prophet. When he's thrown into the sea and the storm calms the sailors praise God. Jonah's sermon in the Hebrew is only 5 words yet a whole city repents. God uses Jonah over and over again even when he's trying to avoid everything that God has asked him to be.
What about you? Do you know who God is? Do you know who you are? Then question three, what are you going to do about it?