All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 (emphasis added)
Those who aren't following Jesus aren't his followers. Followers follow and those who don't follow, aren't followers. Scott McKnight
Discipleship is putting into practice everything that Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God. Dallas Willard
C'S. Lewis once told us that a young person must be quite careful about the books they read. Lewis was a bit ironic about the reading that stirred within him, a longing for joy. Desire was awakened that the modern world could not quench. Through the books he read, the Divine Dove was brooding over his life. The Hound of Heaven was doggedly in pursuit of C.S. Lewis.
I would like to borrow that sentiment and say that the average Christian must be quite careful about the books they read. Pastors must be aware as well, to their troubling, disturbing, provoking, power. As I have been immersed in the Gospels, and reading book after book on Jesus - they are disturbing and life giving. The last three books I read in the last two weeks are particularly so. Here they are:
All three of these books are written by prophet-teachers, who love Jesus, who love the Kingdom of God, who love the church and people of God . . . and who are concerned by the great lack of faithful obedience among those who say they are followers of Jesus.
Each author says, in various ways, we have been led astray by a cheap grace that offers forgiveness without obedience, a Savior without a Lord, a tame Messiah instead of a wild one (reJesus), and a Christianized American Dream rather than true discipleship.
What is the Gospel?
What is the Gospel Jesus preached?
The Kingdom of God is here. Repent, believe, follow me (Mark 1:14-17). Any other understanding of the Gospel must take into account the Gospel of Jesus as the starting point. While we may add other themes as core to the Gospel, those other themes (like justification by grace through faith) do not replace or supersede the Gospel of the Kingdom according to Jesus.
We want the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10), apart from the context and conditions of discipleship. It does not happen that way. Jesus becomes the Way, the Truth, and the Life for us (John 14:6), as we accept HIM, on his terms and in his ways. Following Jesus in joy, love, faith, hope and obedience is His Gospel. It is His Way of you and I flourishing.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International