Tuesday, 7 July 2009

discipleship means...

see tell and call

The window looks out onto the world around. From this high vantage point much can be seen. The window is also ajar, so the sounds from outside enter freely and can be heard readily. The weather vane can do nothing other than tell it as it is and point out the direction of the prevailing wind, which is of course invisible. The bell waits to call people to action. 

For me this is a picture of discipleship.

And in this shot it is the bell tower and weather vane which are exceptional and which first caught my attention, for this part of the building is truly out of the ordinary.

As disciples of Jesus we  are called to see the world as he sees it. So we try to look at everything and everyone from a godly viewpoint. This is a tough call because seeing appreciatively, generously and compassionately, with great grace, is not our natural human default position. Our evolutionary psycho-social development means that quite the reverse is often the case.  To practice lovingly understanding, empathetic and inclusive vision is too see each other with eyes full of delighted hope, from a heart full of grace.

Then we can truly listen deeply to what the other is saying, and saying not just with words but with the whole of their life. To listen in this way is to be alert for those cadences of need and insight which hint at and sometimes reveal where Jesus is standing in the life of this person, group or people.

So far to so good. And then we come to the exceptional bell tower and its weather vane. Having seen and listened, our discipleship comes alive when we move on to do naturally what  Jesus did, which is to tell and call. And I guess it is at this point that we move into the territory of matters which are more out of the ordinary. Having seen and listened to the pain and distress in the world around him, Jesus told it as it was and pointed to the eternal loving purposes and ceaseless activity of God at work in the world. Faced with needy and suffering people Jesus responded. And he responded with the gospel of God's love which meets us face to face. He responded with that activist, subversive politics of passion which he called the kingdom of God. Jesus embodied, enfleshed and made real the hidden reality at the heart of creation; the love in whom we live and move and have our being. Such love is constantly striving to make all things new. His disciples are called to do likewise; to see and listen deeply and to respond by making the presence of God's love really apparent and relevant, as we strive to make all things new in and through our passionate kingdom lifestyles.

And then Jesus called those he met to make a personal, heart-felt response to this face to face love of God for them and others. Jesus calls us to respond and become agents of change, to be transformed and transforming, and to follow him into the suffering and hurting places within the world and in ourselves. We are to know and to be the gospel right there. Through such prophetic love the call to that which is hopeful and holy is manifest. Telling and calling are surely central and essential to such a ministry of encouragement and social justice.

Seeing, listening, telling and calling are at the heart of our vocation as followers of Jesus. When we see, listen, tell and call as he did, we really are acting as his disciples in the world.


  1. ... and for all of these things we must learn to slow down, to stop rushing and to look so that we can see, and to listen so that we can hear...etc...

    A conversation with a church member recently highlighted for me the busyness of some folks faith. She felt that I was being lazy by taking time out to reflect. I beg to disagree!!!

  2. Hi Sally - there are so many things I would want to say which would support you in disagreeing!

    One of the biggest ways in which I feel that we are called to be counter-cultural is to be seen to be taking time out with God, and not to be the least apologetic about it. Not just because it will stop us burning out and deepen our discipleship and ministry (ordained or otherwise) - but because it's the right way to live.

    To which someone should say to me, "Physician, heal thyself"!!

  3. Hi Sally and Rachel: I wholeheartedly agree with your emphasis on time for reflection. If we are always rushing about everything is likely to be a blur. To be still and see and listen deeply is a critical and essential part of our vocation as Christians