When we think about discipleship, we often dwell on the things we think we should be doing but are failing to do. But Christian discipleship—Gospel discipleship—doesn’t start with us, it starts with Jesus and goes out from there, says Rev Shane Kammermann.
As a young man, Christ met me and changed my life. I have never gotten over it! But it didn’t happen in a vacuum, there were people involved—normal, everyday people who belonged to a crucified Lord and who lived in his powerful and sometimes unusual fellowship. It was through human words and action in the power of the Holy Spirit that brought about that transformation.
The Basis of Union, the foundational document of the Uniting Church in Australia, is a document all about mission. It’s a document grounded firmly in the Scriptures.
Paragraph 4 of the Basis of Union places our part in making disciples squarely in the ongoing work of Jesus. He is present and active—the Word of God. He personally addresses people bringing forgiveness, new life, and a hope beyond human vision. He forms disciples, and he is building his church.
Who makes disciples? Jesus does—and he uses us, who are his disciples, to do it!
In Matthew 28 there is a very similar pattern. Jesus’ clear commission to the church is founded in his ongoing presence as the Lord of all the nations. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus says, “Therefore, in your going make disciples of all nations.”
It’s Jesus who has all authority, and its Jesus’ word and Spirit that empower and sustain his people. Union with Christ through baptism and faith involves teaching the word of Christ. This happens powerfully in the shed, paddock, kitchen, shopping centre and in a boat up the creek. It happens in Christian worship and teaching in buildings. It happens through crises, conversation, mundane work and celebration. It involves all of us, all the time! Jesus wastes nothing.
So let’s not lose hope, and let’s not neglect our heritage or the scriptures. Jesus is making disciples and is building his church! Rather than ask what Jesus would do, we could look to see what Jesus is doing, and be part of that. Rather than ask him to help us, maybe we could ask if we can join him. Crikey, it might even be good!
Shall we go with him?
Rev Shane Kammermann is the Uniting Church minister in Ingham and Halifax, and is the Lay Education Convener for the Presbytery of North Queensland.
Basis of Union
Paragraph 4, 1992 edition:
4. CHRIST RULES AND RENEWS THE CHURCH
The Uniting Church acknowledges that the Church is able to live and endure through the changes of history only because its Lord comes, addresses, and deals with people in and through the news of his completed work. Christ who is present when he is preached among people is the Word of the God who acquits the guilty, who gives life to the dead and who brings into being what otherwise could not exist. Through human witness in word and action, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ reaches out to command people’s attention and awaken faith; he calls people into the fellowship of his sufferings, to be the disciples of a crucified Lord; in his own strange way Christ constitutes, rules and renews them as his Church.