Uncharted | Week Three
What does it mean to be a disciple? This week our third “uncharted” message helped pull at the nuance of letting go in order to hold on. That no disciple ever followed Jesus without leaving something behind.
But our version of discipleship often gets distorted. We think it’s about one thing when it’s really about something else. We learned in this week’s message that discipleship isn’t about getting more knowledge, becoming qualified or even charting the right pathway. But, inside us, we have these other ideas about saying “yes” to Jesus and what that means for us. Consider how Eugene Peterson recounts his encounter getting bullied over the winter in the first grade and the day everything changed.
“I remember that it was March by the weather. The winter snow was melting, but there were still patches of it here and there. The days were getting longer—I was no longer walking home in the late afternoon dark. And then something unexpected happened. I was with my neighborhood friends on this day, seven or eight of them, when Garrison caught up with us and started in on me, jabbing and taunting, working himself up to the main event. He had an audience, and that helped. He always did better with an audience.
That’s when it happened. Totally uncalculated. Totally out of character. Something snapped within me. For just a moment the Bible verses disappeared from my consciousness and I grabbed Garrison. To my surprise, and his, I realized that I was stronger than he was. I wrestled him to the ground, sat on his chest, and pinned his arms to the ground with my knees. I couldn’t believe it—he was helpless under me. At my mercy. It was too good to be true. I hit him in the face with my fists. It felt good, and I hit him again—blood spurted from his nose, a lovely crimson on the snow. By this time all the other children were cheering, egging me on. “Black his eyes!” “Bust his teeth!”
I said to Garrison, “Say ‘Uncle.’” He wouldn’t say it. I hit him again. More blood. More cheering. Now my audience was bringing the best out of me. And then my Christian training reasserted itself. I said, “Say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.’” He wouldn’t say it. I hit him again. More blood. I tried again, “Say ‘I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.’”
And he said it. Garrison Johns was my first Christian convert.”
What does it mean to say “yes” to Jesus? For some of us, it was just an expectation that we feared to stray from. For others, it was something we did under duress (hopefully not as extreme as the story above), for others of us, we’re not even exactly sure what we said yes to!
The truth is, living as a disciple has less to do with a moment of conversation or even following the rules and everything to do with trust. To follow Jesus is to attempt to look like the one you follow. If I want to look like Jesus, then I have to trust in something beyond yourself, to trust in someone else’s plan for you in spite of your desire to be good, to complete the assignment, or to figure it all out.
Discipleship is an on-going exercise in trust and in letting go. This is what makes generosity such a core practice of our life of a disciple. It’s THE way we actively let go of what we hold on to and what we hope for and learn to trust God to lead us and to shape us to become more like Jesus. If you want to be an active disciple, learn to be actively generous with your resources. No disciple ever followed Jesus without letting go of something.
I wonder what’s happening in this season of your life that is leading you to let go. How is God inviting you to trust Him, even more, today than you did yesterday?