We believe that the days we are living in require followers of Jesus to apply what we already know of God and His Kingdom through the way we live our lives.
For apprentices of Jesus to dodge the call to application and disappear behind the mental gymnastics of acquiring more information about a shared life, before we feel ready to live one, isn’t how The Light invades darkness. Long gone are our halcyon days of ‘holy huddles’ and bastions of likeminded observers of religious habit.
We are a people called to engage in rubbing shoulders with doubt, turning cheeks, surrendering cloaks, walking extra miles, feeding, helping, healing, paying the bill and surrendering our will to the One whose Kingdom is here and is coming - to demonstrate the hope and joy of Jesus, following His way. The glory of God was not the spectacle of a cloistered community representative adorned with precious metals, to the cheers and preference of an invited and select crowd, endorsed with the most comfortable and luxurious trappings of the world but rather a broken, naked and rejected body enthroned and lifted up under the gaze of shame on a cross and coronated with a crown of thorns.
Discipleship is hard. A life dedicated to loving God with all of my heart and with all of my soul and with all of my mind in response to the call of Jesus needs some working out. There is a way that seems right to a (hu)man but my temporary comfort, the acceptance of others for who I pretend to be, my investment in proving I can provide for myself, burning my relationship bridges, investing in my pride, keeping my world small, justifying my sin, burying my faith in tradition, believing lies and corrupting my character, end in my spiritual death.
Following Jesus in application isn’t simply a way of life, I believe it is the way to life.
The spiralised shape of influence that habits can have on us mean that our everyday decisions either lead us ‘up’ to new life or ‘down’ into spiritual death.
Does your cup of life feel half full, half empty or are you rolling your eyes and muttering under your breath “it’d be nice to have a cup!”? All of our responses to that cup display the choices we are making every day to apply our knowledge (or not).
Following Jesus isn’t the boundary edges of performing ‘good’ behaviour when I feel capable of it and hoping for the positive aggregation of marginal gains in my existence (do good things when people are watching and I’ll get what I want…fingers crossed). Following Jesus is a daily decision to ask for His Kingdom to invade my preferences and that the Holy Spirit will soften and quicken my response to that invitation.
If life with Jesus feels like it has been stolen, robbed or destroyed from you, start getting it back by checking in on your habits of application. Following Jesus to new, abundant life involves fixing our minds and our souls and our hearts on the peace, justice, mercy, grace, kindness, love, acceptance and security of God (Psalm 91).
Our community calls to invest time with each other, reading the Bible, praying, eating together, gathering together and scattering together are not the battering rams of a culture change. These are the tools we have available to us to help us in our application, habit shaping tools, cup to overflowing tools.
We must take responsibility for the priority order of application in our own lives. Choosing not to engage with the wider community is a habit informing decision. Passing over opportunities to pray is a habit informing decision. Not serving others is an application habit choice. Equally, sacrificing time with others is shaping my following of Jesus, teaching someone something from my walk with Jesus is fixing my attention on the things of God, choosing connection is following Jesus in the wide and open spaces of abundant and new life.
Discipleship in application is not looking for habits or observances to just get us through so we can get on with what we want but instead to give us the fullness of a living relationship with God.
This week, where is Jesus asking you to go and who are you discipling, baptising, and teaching?
Don’t give in to nervousness about the unknown, be brave instead. People are busy with life, so don’t panic if your best discipleship application plans get iced. If you can’t meet with someone this week, you can pray for them. If you can’t read the Bible with someone else this week, you can WhatsApp them about it. If you can’t eat with someone this week, you can fast instead.