I think we need a major change in how we understand discipleship.
Exhibit A: Manila Airport
There are over 1,000 travelers waiting in lines to get checked in and get boarding pass. People have been standing in these lines for hours. What’s the hold up?
His job? To restock the supplies that the ticketing agents use. Boarding pass paper, baggage tickets, and luggage tags. He goes to each station and refills the supplies. His supply container is on wheels but he doesn’t move the container. He walks back and forth, multiple times from each station. It takes him on average 3 trips to each station to make sure it’s done right. He’s slow. Meticulous. Detailed. He’s oblivious to commotion behind him. He walks – not hurries, not run, nothing remotely suggesting stress – to each station.
He thinks this is all about him. That his job is the most important and it needs to be done perfectly.
He doesn’t get that his job is not the point. The point is to get passengers on planes as efficiently as possible. He needs to hurry. He needs to see the situation and move accordingly. He needs somebody behind him kicking him into another gear reminding him that HE isn’t the point. The mission is the point.
So many people think of discipleship in this way. They think it’s about how many classes they have taken, how many verses they know, how perfect and squared away their life is. They get so focused on themselves, they forget that spiritual formation is for a purpose.
Real discipleship, real spiritual formation is for a larger purpose than just for us to be better people. That’s a benefit – but not the purpose. The purpose is to engage in a lost world with the redeeming story of Jesus. To do so in a way that communicates the unconditional love of Jesus. And to not forget that the point of the story isn’t us.
Exhibit B: Seoul, South Korea, 5:45 am
The dark alley is a much better picture of discipleship. Six hours after I took that picture of the guy in the Manila airport, I took the picture of the dark alley in Seoul, Korea. Three of us had 6 hours to spend in Seoul. It was quite the adventure but we needed a guide. So we asked. The lady who exchanged our currency, the train ticket taker, the attendants in the station. And they helped. And they told us…
Get off at this station, go one block up, turn to the right, go down this alley, turn right again and there is going to be this incredible dim sum place.
And this was the alley. And all three of us just looked at it.
There was something on the other end of that alley. Something incredible. But we needed some guides to get there and once there we needed others to walk down the alley with. That’s discipleship – finding people to walk down dark alleys with. On the adventure. Getting help from others on the way.
And that’s what we mean when we say – ‘go be the church.’