Vinnie didn't kick up much dust when he walked, but if he had, I definitely would have got some on me. Unlike Jesus, Vinnie and I walked on mostly paved sidewalks. Jesus and His disciples walked the dusty unpaved roads of Israel. I have never seen Jesus with my physical eyes
but I learned to follow Him, first from my parents, and then from Vinnie. I met Vinnie in college. He was part of a program that purposed to disciple college students. We studied the Bible together, prayed together, taught Sunday School together, shared our faith in Christ with those who did not know Him together and hung out together. Vinnie's training prepared me for a life of ministry in ways that nothing else could. It was the closest thing to being "
covered in the dust of Jesus
" in a world where Jesus is not yet physically present. Now, just to be clear, Vinnie is not Jesus! But, in the power of the Holy Spirit, he modeled Jesus's life and teaching in a remarkable way. I hope, in the almost 30 years since I followed Vinnie, that I have had a similar influence on those I have discipled.
One of the most significant things that Vinnie taught me was to disciple others. He would share the Good News of Jesus with someone we knew and then he would tell me to disciple them. The first time he did that I panicked. I didn't feel trained enough, old enough, mature enough to disciple anyone. But before I knew it I was leading 3 different groups of guys in learning more about Jesus. I would meet with anyone, anytime they were available to meet. I learned to disciple others because Vinnie challenged me to, whether I felt ready or not. I am so thankful he did.
Discipleship is rare in the the church in Western culture. Ask most people in the church if they have ever been discipled and they get lost in a fog of trying to identify a specific individual that influenced them in their walk with Christ. We (Sunlight) filled out a survey at the beginning of the year and one of the questions was: "
I am spending time with others with the intent purpose of mentoring them in their walk with Christ." Over 50% of us indicated that we had not yet started this or we were just beginning to move in that direction. It was one of our weakest areas on the survey but my hunch is we are far stronger in discipleship than most churches in our country.
As we dive into this message series to learn more about the person of Jesus Christ, always remember that an hour on Sunday morning is not enough to be discipled by Jesus Christ. It will take personal initiative in study and meditation and it will also take finding someone who will disciple you and someone you will disciple. It is the life that Jesus modeled. Once his earthly ministry began, he never went anywhere without his disciples. That is a pretty good indication that we should be engaged in the same practice!
Discipleship in our context may look a little different than it did for Jesus but a few ingredients are essential: God's Word, Time, Prayer, Modeling, Witness and Reproduction. It is my hope and prayer that as we journey through 2018 we grow closer to living out the kind of discipleship Jesus modeled for us. I pray that we are dustier at the end of this year than when we started.
To prepare your heart for this weeks message, read and meditate on the opening chapter of John's Gospel. See you Sunday! -Kris