January

Jesus and Discipleship: I have decided!

If we’re looking at what it means to follow Jesus, the best place to start is by looking at our own lives!

How have we come to follow Jesus? Did we make a commitment at a church altar call, a youth camp, or perhaps quietly while reading our bibles - and then writing in the front of our Gideon’s Bible the date of our decision to follow.

Or maybe we’ve never really made that decision, but find ourselves in church with a bunch of other believers, doing as they do, rather than doing as Jesus did.

Or maybe we just finding yourself wanting to know more about Jesus.

Any of those are perfectly good reasons to start the journey, to explore what it means to be Following!

This month we’re looking specifically at what it means to be a disciple of Jesus:

How did we make that decision?

What did it mean then? What does it mean now?

It’s important to remember as we reflect on these things that we can only come to God in honesty, even if it means that we may recognises that we don’t follow as well as we like to think we follow!

So perhaps the first lesson in discipleship is honesty with God - and with others on the journey!

Once we’ve thought about how we have joined with others in following Jesus, once we have been honest about that, we need to think about who and how we follow. Where do we get our information about Jesus from?

What did Jesus do? And how can we know that the words about him are true and worthy of our attention?

For our journey this year we will be focussing mainly on the gospels as the story of Jesus, in whom we discover the full glory of God (John 1).

The gospels were written later than the Epistles, and probably represent the thinking about Jesus of their particular communities, with different emphases on different parts of the stories. I won’t discuss that here, but we will mention it in the in-person meeting.

The point is that the Jesus story has already been interpreted for those communities, whether Greek or Roman of Jewish, and indeed, we do find differences in the different gospels, as we have found the gospels themselves interpreted different since then.

But we don’t only receive our knowledge of God from the gospels! We also have our experiences which speak to us of who God is, prayers answered (or not!), our traditions (for good and ill!) and our minds, our reason to help us think clearly about things. In all these things the Holy Spirit guides us in understanding ultimately who God, in Jesus is. And which help us to answer honestly, “What would Jesus do?”

Finally, if we follow Jesus and draw our inspiration from the gospels, how does that influence us in the way we live today? We we different, are we better people because of it? Do we bring hope and healing and life to those around us, or do others prefer to avoid us?

I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the ways in which you have come to know Jesus and God, and the ways in which that affects your life.

As we journey through this month together we will be adding to our understanding with a weekly podcast looking at Calling, the Living Word versus the Written Word, Principles of Discipleship, Following as Community, and the Word in the World.

In addition there will be devotions from Tuesday to Friday with Thursday being a day set aside for prayer.

Please send a request to join our whatsapp group to minister@milnertonmethodist.co.za and we will add you to group for the daily messages, or you can follow this page for new materials to think about each month.