I’m attending a discipleship class locally. I didn’t know it was a discipleship class when I signed up. A friend of mine was goign to teach a class on Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy, one of my favorite books of all time. At the time I read it, it was a godsend in helping thing outside the religious obligation treadmill I’d been running on for almost 40 years. But the class turns out to be less about the book and more about trying to be better disciples of Jesus. Well, I guess we could all use a refresher course like that so I’ve stayed with it. The class has been a bit like a time-warp. It has taken me back 30 years to when I thought discipleship is something we had to do for God, rather than learn to live inside his revelation.
It’s reminded me that the life of Jesus is not found by trying to avoid our sins and or trying to incorporate more Christian practices in our life. The life of Jesus is found inside a relationship that is so endearing sin loses it’s luster and its power, and finding what connects me better to him is the adventure of each day. I remember well working so hard to try to connect with him and always frustrated at my fleeting and failed attempts. All the while he was revealing himself to me in ways I couldn’t recognize because I hadn’t earned them by my hard work. Finding him as a real presence in my life changed everthing. I still do some of the same practices, but for far different reasons. They are no longer a substitute for the relationship I lacked, but simply a way of recognizing him. And in working less to find him, I find myself working more with him in the joy of loving and serving others.
The life of Jesus is not about saying no to our desires and trying to follow his. It’s really about coming to know him and in knowing him let him teach us how to say no to worldly appetities and desires, and yes to his unfolding purpose in our lives. For me, it has made all the difference in the world and it is hard to watch others labor under a human effort approach to discipleship. It may work in the short term when a class is holding them accountable, but in time it will fade away like all the other attempts unless they discover how to engage a Father of great affection.
Even Dallas Willard said it that way: “The eternal life of which Jesus speaks is not knowledge about God but an intimately interactive relationship with him.” The disciplines don’t earn that, at their best the express the reality of it already happening in our hearts.
Tomorrow I board a flight for Atlanta and to wander around Georgia and North Carolina for 10 days and explore that journey with others. There are some old friends I’ll cross paths with on this trip, and people I don’t know yet, who will likely become friends in the brief time we’ll have together. If you’re interested in connecting with me and others on this journey while I’m there you can get details on my travel page. After that I’ll be headed to Florida in early March, spending time in Orlando, Sarasota, and West Palm Beach. You can join us there if you like. Then in April I’m planning on spending some time in Virginia, at least in Richmond and wherever else he may open doors.
Also for your information on Saturday, March 7, I’m going to be a guest on Moody Radio’s Up for Debate radio show, that will also stream life on the Internet. Host Julie Royas will be conducting a conversation about whether or not a Christian has to attend “a church.” It should be interesting especially because the other guest has written that we must and that it is the only way to be identified with Jesus in the world. It should be an interesting discussion if you want to listen or call in. 😉