Disciple of Christ

I know I haven’t posted in awhile 😦 life has been pretty busy, plus I’ve been home with my family and when I’m home, I really don’t want to do anything haha 😛 My home Pastor goes to Florida every Christmas and this year, asked my husband and I to fill in for him to preach for him while he is gone. Evan preached last Sunday and I preached this past Sunday 🙂 Here is what I shared with my home church:

Last week Evan talked about Immanuel, “God with us”. So if it means that God is with us, it always means that God is within us. Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:22, “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit, in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” In other words, if we have made the decision to follow Christ and asked Him to be a part of our lives, Christ is living in our heart. When we have made that decision that means you are now a disciple of Christ.

This morning I would like to talk about discipleship and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

When I think of a disciple of Christ, one of the most known examples is someone I really admire: Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The way she lived her life and treated others screams Jesus Christ; she wouldn’t even have to utter the name Jesus for others to see Jesus in her.

One of my favourite stories of her has to do with shoes. Where she ministered in Calcutta, India. People from around the world would send her used shoes to give to the children in her neighborhood who didn’t have any shoes. Giving people shoes who do not have any is definitely something Jesus would do! But Jesus also wants the best for his children so she followed what her heart told her to do and she would sort through all the shoes, find the pair of shoes that were in the worst condition out of all of them, take them for herself so all the children would have the best shoes.

The story always sticks with me because that is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. To let Jesus shine through you, treat others how Jesus would treat others and to imitate the way Jesus would live his life.

Mother Theresa lived her entire life imitating the way Jesus lived his life and how He treated people and as Christians, as disciples of Christ, we should be doing the exact same thing.

In this story, Mother Theresa was looking out for the children; she had a soft spot in her heart for children. And so did Jesus.

Read Mark 10:13-16

In our culture, it is quite normal to bypass people who are down and out. Whether it be someone who is struggling with drugs alcohol, someone who is barely scraping by, the homeless, those who are even victims of racial or gender inequality.

As disciple of Christ we are called to imitate the life of Jesus. When we read about Jesus’ life and ministry in the Bible, who did He spend time with? We don’t see Him staying among the same group of people (or in today’s context, staying around Christians constantly) but rather He was always with the down and out during that time…the children, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, basically everyone society rejected and pushed away just like the disciples tried to do with the children in this passage.

In the culture that the disciples were part, it was normal to bypass to children because frankly, they were viewed as unimportant and insignificant. In the ancient world, children were easily ignored and they had no status. Children added nothing to the family’s economy they simply just didn’t count. During this time you could literally throw away a child by disposing of the child at birth if it was unwanted.

When we think about our own culture, who does society reject? Homeless, the poor, those who have trouble with alcohol, drugs, some are stuck in prostitution, sometimes race is an issue, religious groups, sometimes gender inequality is still an issue.

This passage says that Jesus became “indignant” towards the disciples, which means feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment. Jesus stopped the disciples and said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” By saying this, Jesus went against the grain of the culture, as He usually did and sent a clear message to the disciples…no one is limited to coming to Him….EVERYONE, including children is more than welcome to come to Him. The disciples meant well but Jesus did not approve.

We can be like the disciples in this passage sometimes thinking we are doing the right thing by not associating with people who are not Christian but it says that Jesus was annoyed with disciples trying to shoo the children away from Jesus. Jesus wanted to be around the ones society rejected because He wanted to show the people what God’s character is truly like. Loving, caring and compassionate; not judgmental and exclusive.

Jesus goes against the grain here by expressing value over the children. Jesus embraces the powerless children with no status rather than dismissing them or banishing them. Jesus’ response towards the disciples not only centered on their lack of compassion, but for not seeing the greater faith picture in the children’s desire to see him.  Put another way:  Who does the Kingdom of God belong to?  It belongs to those who come to him like little children.  It belongs to those who see their need of him. If you have faith like a little child, it means who recognize and realize that you cannot live this life without him because you depend on Him.

Sometimes we can be like the disciples in the story. Perhaps not being accepting of someone because of something they did or said in the past. Perhaps their job is not at the ethical standards of Christian living and so we steer clear of those people. Or perhaps they swear like a sailor or party every weekend or maybe their lifestyle isn’t quite what we agree on and that makes us uncomfortable so we crawl back into our own comfort zone and avoid reaching out to others for the sake of maintaining within our comfort zone.

In Mark 10:13-16, I wanted to focus on the disciples really take a look at what being a true disciples means. This story in the Bible is an example of how Jesus does not want us to conduct ourselves as His disciples in this world.

The English word “ disciple” comes from the Greek word, which means student or pupil. or pupil.

During the time of Jesus, “disciple” was most often used when describing someone who supports a person or set of ideas of a wise teacher. Discipleship refers to people who were committed to following a great leader, imitating their way of life, and passing on their teachings. For us, for Christians, that person that we follow is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

By times, we are not conscious of the fact that we are Christ’s disciples and never really take it upon ourselves to do something about the hurt someone may be going through. This mindset is summed up very well in this little story:

One day a young woman was walking home from work when she saw a little girl standing on the street corner, begging. The little girl’s clothes were paper thin and dirty, hair matted and unclean, and her cheeks red from the cold.

The young woman dropped a few coins in the begging bowl, gave the girl a smile and walked on. As she walked she started to feel guilty. How could she go home to her warm house with its full pantry and well supplied wardrobe while this little girl shivered on the street.

The young woman also began to feel angry, angry with God. She let her feeling be known in a prayer of protest. “God, how can you let these sort of things happen? Why don’t you do something to help this girl?”

And then, to her surprise God answered. He said, “I did do something. I created you.”

2 Corinthians 5:20 says, we are Christ’s ambassadors, we are Christ’s disciples, representing Jesus here on Earth. Where ever we may be at here on Earth, where ever we may work, go to school, whoever your family is, whoever your friends are, no matter what your circumstances are, as disciples of Christ, we are called to follow the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ, imitate the way He lived His life and pass on His teachings.

I want to challenge everyone, including myself to always be mindful that as Christians, as followers of Christ, as disciples of Christ, we are continuing Christ’s work here on Earth. That means following the way He lived His life as we read in Scripture. In other words, letting Christ shine through us in the way we live, in the way we talk, in the way we interact with others and in the way we treat others.

In all of our uniqueness, our unique spiritual gifts, or unique weakness, our unique strengths, and our unique personalities, God has called us together here in Boiestown, as the body of Christ to represent Him. He has chosen to create each and every one of us during this period of time to represent Christ and to show others His love in our own unique ways. As Christians, others should see Christ through the way we speak, act, treat others.

I want you to think about who you were, what you were doing, how you talked, how you treated others before you became a Christian. We all have different stories but I bet we can all agree that we were very different people. But why, how does that happen?

Read 2 Cor. 5:17

In other words, when we became a Christian, our old ways are gone, God began to shape us and mold us into the people He created us to be in the first place. When we follow Christ, when we spend time in His word, when we talk to Him in prayer and when we meditate on His word, we are growing in Christ and our deeper, truer self which he created us to be begins to blossom. So as we grow closer to God, the more ourself we become.

Sometimes when Evan and I are doing our ministry at Youth Bible Study or Youth Group and one of the youth does something or says something…I just can’t help but shake my head and think, “was I like that when I was their age?” And the truth is, I probably was! But at that point in my journey with God, I was just beginning to get to know God and so I was just beginning to blossom into my true self. It’s safe to say that I’m still not fully who God created me to be. I still have parts of me that God and I are working on together as He molds me and shapes me into who He created me to be. As Christ’s disciple, that’s so important.

But what I’m trying to get at here is that as disciples of Christ, we all have something unique to offer. God created all of us with unique skills, talents, gifts for a reason. Imagine what the world would be like if we were all the same! Boring!

Since we are all unique, we are all called to be Christ’s disciples uniquely: to show Christ to those who need Him. We are all needed in God’s work on this Earth. I can guarantee that we all know at least one person that no one else here knows.

People who do not know God in their life desperately need to know Jesus. And if they do not, their eternal life is at stake. That is taking a huge risk!

The children and the disciples that we read about in Mark 10:13-16 were at an advantage, they actually got to SEE Jesus, they saw with their very eyes what He looked like, how He lived His life and how He treated other people. They saw something different about Him and as we read in the passage, the children were very attracted to the qualities they seen in Jesus. They saw someone who loves, someone who cares, someone who had compassion…the difference that they saw in Him, they wanted to be a part of it.

Jesus’ time as a human on Earth has ended but now He is living within us. In other words, the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, is living in each one who has accepted Christ into their life. That is powerful. That same spirit is living within each one of us here today, and with all the other Christians in the world because we share the same Spirit. With that Spirit and the body that God has given you, in the place He has placed you, in the circle of people He has surrounded you with, we are called to be disciples of Christ. We are called to show others through the way we live that there is something different about us.

One of mine and Evan’s good friends is an atheist. This friend has absolutely no intention of picking up the Bible to read and often criticizes the Christian faith. This friend can be quite bitter about Christians because he unfortunately has had some bad experiences with Christians. I’m not saying that we are all bad Christians or anything but in my short life, I have encountered many people who do not want anything to do with the Christian faith because of a few Christians they have encountered that may have judged them or ridiculed them or perhaps like the disciples in this passage who shooed the children away.

This saddens me very much because those who do not have Christ have no idea what they are missing out on. Unless, they see Christ in His disciples; then they will notice the difference. Then they will see that maybe Christianity isn’t what they thought it was in the first place. Our faith and belief in Jesus Christ, our life, our words, the way we treat others should make those who do not believe question their lack of faith and belief.

We all know what it is like to not have Jesus in our life and what a difference He makes! Why would we not want that for others? Their eternal life is at stake! The fact of a matter is, our lives are on a stage, people watch the way we live. As disciples of Christ, we are representing Him and what others should see, is Jesus Christ. A professor once told me, that the loudest testimony that will speak to others is through our life. So if we genuinely come to God with a childlike faith, welcome anyone and everyone, follow the way Jesus lived His life, truly live it out in our own lives, share His message through our words and our lives, if our life makes others question their unbelief, that is what it means to be a disciple of Christ.


“Life Isn’t A Puzzle You Have To Figure Out On Your Own”

I used to get so overwhelmed when I heard teens I work with or other people in my life say something along the lines of, “I just wish I knew what God’s will for my life is!?” What does that even mean?! How can we even know something like that? How can we, humans, know what God has planned for us? The simple answer is, there is no way.

I used to get so overwhelmed because I was making God way more complicated than He is.

When I first became a Youth Pastor, I was extremely overwhelmed. I knew that perhaps this is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but this is where God has me NOW and I am okay with that. Having said that, I absolutely LOVE my job but I’m also completely okay knowing that this is temporary and this is where God has put me for now. I’m totally okay with that.

After I graduated from my undergrad, I was yet again, overwhelmed. Surprise, surprise. There are so many options out there and I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t have the slightest clue if I was doing the right thing in pursuing my MDiv. The deciding factor for me was not getting into the Social Work program, but I was accepted (with $4000 renewable scholarship) to the MDiv program at Acadia University. To me, that was an open door that God wanted me to walk through. I never really saw myself in seminary before but I had to trust God and know that He knew what would happen when I walked through that door.

When I started school, I met this professor whom I love dearly and she talked to me when I was having difficulty settling in. I remember saying to her, “I don’t know if counseling is where God wants me to go. I just want to do whatever He wants me to do.” And honestly, her response has changed me. She said, “I really don’t think God plans our lives like a puzzle that He sets in front of us and we have to figure out on our own how to put it together.” I’ve been thinking about that statement ever since she said it to me.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? God doesn’t create us to throw us out to the wolves with no sense of direction. HE is our sense of direction. I believe there is a puzzle (from a human’s perspective) that we do have to figure out, but if you have God in your life, you don’t have the burden to figure it out on your own.

God has a plan for everyone’s life and it’s comforting to know that He knows that plan. The thing is, as a Christian, God wants me to trust Him and part of that is being okay with the fact that I don’t know what the plan of my life is, but He does.

So what does it mean follow God’s will for your life? To me, I’ve come to learn that God opens doors and He closes doors. The Bible says so. Revelation 3:7-8 says, “these are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

In other words, as child actress, Baliee Madison once said, “God gave me this (her acting career) and He can just as easily take it away and I have to be okay with that.”

When God is a part of your life, there’s great comfort in knowing that He’s in control, He knows what the future holds, and He knows the plans He has for your life. Of course your life has a purpose or else He wouldn’t have created you in the first place. Think about that. There may be a puzzle to figure out, but you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Let life happen as it will happen. God’s in control and He just so happens to know what He’s doing. I don’t need to know what my life looks like 10 or 5 or even 2 years down the road because He already knows! If I put too much focus on the future and what it may hold, I take away from the present and am no longer living life to the fullest by cherishing each moment.

There is a puzzle to this thing called life but I have God by my side helping me put it together each step of the way. God opens doors and He closes doors. And I’m okay with that.