Shall We? by Mark Knight - 3 Nov 2006

I am frustrated by a longing to see friends come to a more full-blooded discipleship with Jesus.  It seems as though I can’t avoid suffocating rebuke, gracelessness, elitism and self-congratulation every time I feel the need to offer some advice or provoke some questions in those around me.  If, prophetically, we’ve heard the one about the bones and the army, what are we to do with it? What do we do with the fact that this same word often seems to be in our own lives but vacant in others’?

Jesus, of course, is the true Disciplemaker.  In my own life with him I’ve known that beautiful mixture of homecoming welcome and outbound challenge that Dietrich Bonhoeffer called costly grace. There have been seasons where I haven’t taken Jesus seriously enough, compromising His call. There have been others where I have taken myself too seriously, and conviction has slipped into condemnation, passing by the grace that makes all of this possible.

I can’t take Jesus’ place in this work.  So what do I do with it? This morning I’m resolving to live, to love, to dream, to pray, to listen and to invite.

I strive to live in fellowship with Jesus, in celebration of the in-breaking Kingdom that is like the first flowers poking out of the thaw, of the new day of the Resurrection.  I must live this new age in every sphere of life in a radical, prophetic way.  Not just as a witness, but for the sake of it. The first cry even of the missionary’s heart should never be to see people saved, but to know Him who saves.

I must love everyone around me with the Father’s love, regardless of where people are, regardless of my own frustrations - just as the Father does me. Guarding contempt, I practice compassion. I leave behind impressiveness by practicing humility. I recognize that we stand together before Jesus, that there is no ladder up against the gospel. Discipleship only comes in genuine love, fellowship and commitment.

I let myself dream of what could be in the lives of my friends and communities. I decide to live prophetically and hopefully, in tension with the resolve merely to love.  Prophetic dreams are not a sealed-off alternate dimension, but an in-breaking reality - God’s word will not return to him empty-handed!

It is part of my duty  to pray for Jesus to make disciples.  Bonhoeffer counsels us to ‘talk more to Christ about a brother than to a brother about Christ’.  Let these prayers be God-oriented, so that our frustration remains God’s own frustration at the distance and absence of His people and not our own, recognising that this is God’s own work in God’s own time.

I spend time listening to struggles, to rants, to the real dose of life that sometimes raises  good objections to some of the stuff the church is offering people.

I share the invitation with people around me to wonder at our God, to worship Him, to meet Him, to join His community. More invitation and less accusation is what this world needs!  Although the invitation calls people into a generous sacrifice to God that is very real.  Speak more in first-person plural than in second-person singular, more ‘Shall we?’ and less ‘Don’t you think you should…’

Recently I heard the story of a girl who got herself into a bad place right at the start of her University career. She was quickly boxed by the Christian community, and for a mixture of reasons fell out of church altogether. It wasn’t for another 2 years that my friend caught up with her by surprise at the back of a church meeting. As it happens, God had really taken hold of her about a year after that struggle. She had felt so unable to return to the Christian community where she had been through that experience, that for a year now she’s been taking a train an hour and a half down the line to the next city every week where she goes to church. Now that’s a sacrifice of time and money from a student for the sake of discipleship. What needs to shift?

Mark Knight is studying theology. He spent a year living at the Reading Boiler Room, UK and was part of a missional community in Seville, Spain. He is currently accepting donations towards the purchase of his first banjo. You can contact Mark and read more of his writing by clicking here.

Shall We? by Mark Knight
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