What We Become = Who We Follow

Jesus’ disciples were not the “A” team. Honestly, they were a lot like you and I – sometimes up, sometimes down, almost always clueless. I still marvel at the fact that Jesus chose guys like that. I mean, Jesus could have put anyone on his team, right? I mean, surely Jesus wan’t naive! Surely the son of God wasn’t being “a little too hopeful,” right?

It sure seems like he made his choices on purpose. Apparently he knew who he was getting involved with.

I, for one, am regularly encouraged by the fact that Jesus, on purpose, chose really regular people to follow him and learn.

Here are five things to take away from Jesus’ discipleship methods:

1. We all need help. Every one of us. Jesus didn’t just choose 12 guys to follow him around because he couldn’t think of anything better – he did it because he knew, better than anyone in the universe that the ONLY way the people learn in a deep, transformative manner is from sharing life together.

I think it’s funny that Jesus never taught his disciples how to pray for the sick, cast out demons, cleanse lepers or preach the gospel, yet the gospels and Acts confirm that the disciples were all able to reproduce his kind of life – right down to raising the dead!

Every single one of us needs a person to follow.

2. Failure is the real f-word. We love winning. We love winners. The subtext is simple: don’t lose, don’t fail – EVER! I’m convinced it’s one of the reasons that we are such a prozac nation – we are all so paralyzed with fear and anxiety. Ironically, these fears are the engine that keep us living small, insignificant lives that never take any ground, because our fear of failure keeps us from taking the kind of risks required to grow.

The gospels, however, are loaded with average people making giant mistakes. Amazingly, Jesus never kicks anyone off the team – not even Judas! Luke 9 might be one of the funniest / most amazing / most encouraging chapters in all the bible. Right after going out and “doing the stuff”, the disciples blunder one thing after another, up to wanting to call down fire from heaven and kill a whole people group because they were “unwelcoming”. But Jesus doesn’t give up. Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending them out again.

Mistakes will be made, but failure is the fertilizer that grows abundant fruit.

3. Being told what to do isn’t the end of the world.

There’s a part of us that wants to be Donald Trump – telling people what to do, sitting in a chair that’s a little higher than everyone else’s, firing the failures. You might be thinking “no way! not me!”, but that’s not entirely true –

What else could explain a pompous jerk with really bad hair having a successful TV series? Why would anyone consider him, even for a second, a candidate for president? Seriously!

Trump is a caricature of our own heart. Being the boss, that’s where it’s at. But being told what to do, being taught, being instructed in gentle and not-so-gentle ways isn’t the end of the world. In fact, being a student, being a learner and being bossed around a little is the beginning of the kind of formation that will eventually transform a person into a mature, healthy, contributing leader.

When a baby poops in it’s diaper – no big deal. We expect it. When a 45 year-old man is still wearing diapers, we are freaked out.

Somewhere along the way, good parents teach good kids about a better way, the potty!

4. Basically, Bon Iver is music myth.

It’s a captivating story. Sick and tired, (and by the way who doesn’t feel “sick and tired” these days?) Justin Vernon treks off into frozen woods with almost no gear and even less hope only to emerge from the cabin with one of the most beloved indie records in the past five years. We hear the story, along with the record, and think – that’s what I need to do – “get away from all this stuff, all these people and just do what I do…”

I’m not saying that didn’t happen. I’m sure something kind of like that did happen, though, I’m certain that the story has, in some ways become the apocryphal collection of the human heart too.

We love the self-made man, the bat-man, hidden in his deep cave with technology that the “rest of the world” is clueless about.

The gospels, however, show us that the process of “becoming” is communal. There is always a community around Jesus. Learning, growing, and maturing in the kingdom requires that we change our go to pronouns, from “I” and “my” to “us” and “our.” My life with Jesus can’t be extracted from my life with my brothers.

5. The Spirit is non-negotiable. Even after the 12 had been with Jesus for three years they were still in need of something more. Their formation was still in process. And the proof was in the fact that when Jesus was arrested, they all ran away – except for John, kind of.

Peter boldly said that he’d never leave. He ran.

But shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, in a prayer meeting, the Spirit comes upon the disciples in a powerful and dynamic way – and one of the first evidences, aside from strange, new praise languages, was iron-clad boldness. Peter preached a really fiery sermon about Jesus in Acts 2. In Acts 4 Peter and John were filled with the Spirit and boldness before the very people who worked the deal to kill Jesus. Something had happened.

The Spirit isn’t a negotiable feature like power windows or cruise control – He is as essential as the engine.

As songwriters, artists and creatives we are all, like the disciples, in the process of “becoming.” Right now we might be common fishermen – right now we might be unknown, insignificant poets and bleeding heart worship leaders, but what we eventually become is directly related to who we are following.

Peace!

Adam  

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adamrussell1@mac.com'
Adam Russell is a worship leader turned pastor. He also leads a worship band known simply as "The Embers." He and his wife, Heather, along with their three children, live and minister in central Kentucky.