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Discipleship conference part 2

Well I've discussed the implications of splitting Jesus up and each group claiming a piece of him. The problem with this sectarianism is that we fail to see the beauty of Jesus as a whole. Certainly I would think there are more than 7 different perspectives of Jesus. These are the ones that McLaren has seen but certainly there can be other views. I think we miss something if we concentrate too much on our own personal Jesus and don't see Jesus for who he is to other people.

Now where we can go wrong in this whole story is our understanding of the gospel. McLaren shared a story about a meeting with another theologian. This other theologian told McLaren that he had precisely no idea what the gospel is.

So what is the gospel then? And what does it mean?

When remember that gospel means good news, I think we can see that it also means the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke often about this kingdom.

I have to laugh a little about McLaren’s view of the contemporary gospel. It goes something like this

The gospel = How to get to heaven when you die
With a large footnote about personal happiness
Smaller footnote about character development
A Much smaller footnote about spiritual experience
And an illegible footnote about social and global transformation.

This reminded me of that whole post I did about moralistic therapeutic deism. We want to feel good about ourselves. But this isn’t really what God was trying to accomplish with Jesus I don’t think. I think there is more to it, I think there is some serious conviction in what Jesus has to say about what the good news actually is.

We have to remember that we are not the end users of the gospel and that this whole thing is about God’s love for the world. Why would God bother with it all if it was all about if we were happy or not? I mean, sure, I think that God wants us to be happy, but I don’t think that our faith should be based on whether or not we are happy.

I often hear that people choose a church because it of how they are fed by it. Is it important to be spiritually nourished? Yes. Should it be our sole decision for how we choose a church? Probably not…

But this is what we get when we dissect Jesus into 7 or more parts. We get this consumer idea of what Christianity can be, and we forget to be disciples. We forget that God calls us to be more than just consumers of the gospel. We pick and choose what it is that we believe about Christ, and then suddenly we can pick and choose whether we care about others and whether we are Godly. I think we dive into some dangerous territory when we have this consumer driven society.

We’re supposed to be disciples. A disciple is someone who is living out what Jesus commanded. It is something we have to work on, not something that we can just sit back and hope that it happens. It isn’t something we can pay money for, it is something that we achieve from walking so closely behind Jesus that we feel the dust from his feet on our skin. It is something that people just recognize when they look at you.

This disciple living isn’t easy. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should be a challenge. I’m always learning more about what it means to be a disciple every day. Some days I fail at being what Christ has called us to, but I am thankful for the grace of God in those situations because it allows me to start over again. If I am not consciously making the decision to follow Christ every day, then I don’t get the reminder about what a sacrifice that Kingdom living truly is.

I am still being changed today from that conference a few weeks back, and I feel like I’ll keep getting insights from it. I’m looking forward to McLaren’s next book, and am grateful for my ability to attend the conference. God continues to bless my time here for sure.
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