WHEN YOU HAVE been around church for some time, it’s easy to forget how subversive the whole thing is—or at least is supposed to be. Jesus came to turn everything upside down—or right-side up, more accurately. The first shall be last, and all that.
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to want to micromanage things: look how the succinct Ten Commandments became a collection of more than 600 legalistic “do’s” and “don’ts”. But the good news of the kingdom is that we don’t have to get it all right first in order to get in.
If you want to become an accountant or a scuba diver you have to study and practice. Then you have to prove you know what you are talking about by passing a test before you get the qualification certificate. To become one of Jesus’s disciples all you have to do is sign up—and then you get the rest of your life to work out what that all means. The world says, “Learn it and earn it.” The gospel says, “Receive it and start to live like you believe it.”
We call that process “discipleship,” a fancy way of describing what it means to become more like Jesus as we try to follow in His ways. Many times we unwittingly turn it into systems and to-do lists as we strive to learn the “right” way. Thus, we have classes on Christian marriage, finances, parenting, and the like.
Those are all good as far as they go, and I have certainly benefited from a bunch of them. But they don’t go far enough because we can never be prepared for every eventuality. That’s why the whole WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) movement only bore so much fruit: it put the emphasis on us having the right answer. Ruled responses, not relationship.
A better focus for making disciples might be WDJS: What Does Jesus Say? That way we don’t have to know all the answers. We just have to know the voice of the One who does. When He was talking to His disciples one time, Jesus likened Himself to a shepherd and His followers to sheep, who “listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:4).
My personal experience and observation of many others is that too many times we don’t recognize His voice. We haven’t learned to tune out the others (the world, the flesh, and the devil) and spent enough time tuning in to His. Instead of focusing on listing (what to do and what not to do) we might do better focusing on listening.
This doesn’t have to get all fuzzy. Certainly there’s learning to discern the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit, but there’s also recognizing His voice in Scripture, through the wisdom of others, and circumstances. Mostly it’s about dynamic, ongoing dependency, rather than a we-got-this-down mindset. Riskier, but ultimately more rewarding.
WDJS 101: That’s a class to sign up for.