Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Discipleship as Movement

Jesus lives out his ministry as an itinerant teacher, preacher, and miracle worker. He does not abide in any one place for long but continually moves to the next town or city. The baseline call of Jesus to others was “Follow me.” The Gospels model for the people of God the necessity of a dynamic movement. Jesus is on the move in the stories that the New Testament preserves for the Church.

In many ways Jesus’ encounters with people appear random. But randomness is part of the method. As Jesus moves from place to place people come to him hoping for a miracle or to hear his authoritative teaching. Jesus embodies his own sense of “sent-ness.” A missional reading highlights this ethos. Following Jesus involves moving around with eyes to see and ears to hear the needs of the world. The Gospels portray Jesus as one who is ready, willing, and able to minister to all those who come to him. Jesus’ movement from city to city offers a key message to the Church. The movement of following Jesus involves embracing this same sense of sent-ness.

The itinerant nature of Jesus’ public ministry invites modern Christ followers to reflect critically on present day practices that often focus on the building of buildings, the attraction of crowds, and the preservation of existing communities. There is obviously a place for such goals but it is crucial to evaluate them in light of Jesus who dismissed crowds who gathered to hear him so that he could move to the next destination on the journey (Matt 15:32-39). Jesus embodied a willingness to leave the ninety-nine to go after the one who was lost (Matt 18:10-14).

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