A Call to Action
Walking on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France one truly sensed that we were walking on Holy Ground. In the pastoral calm of that beach your mind flashes back to the newsreel films of our brave soldier getting ready to face both their destiny, as well as their mortality.
Their sacrifice and valor offered a broken world a gift of freedom from Nazi tyranny.
Such sacrifice was also demonstrated on the fields of Gettysburg, when Lincoln shared these immortal words; “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”
When Jesus called his disciples, he did not call them to a course survey, or to a spiritual growth seminar. Jesus called his disciples to active duty.
Immediately after Matthew was called he got up from his everyday life and walked out. Later that day Matthew’s discipleship training had progressed to the “invite everyone you know and work with to dinner” phase.
Has YOUR discipleship gotten to that level yet?
As Jesus called his disciples, healed those in need, taught those who listened, he always asked for some active response. Matthew — and before him Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John — were asked to make a move in order to accept their new status as disciples. They got up. They left their established routines. They stepped out onto a new road. They established a beach head.
The Pharisees who quibbled over Jesus’ dining companions were also asked to actively engage. Jesus gave them his directives, then challenged them to “Go and learn.”
Even those to whom Jesus offered healing took some form of initiative. The hemorrhaging woman boldly reached out and touched Jesus, convinced by her faith that her action will bring her “health/salvation/wellness.” The little girl, already gone from this life, is touched by Jesus’ life-giving hand, but she then struggled to her own feet while gripping that hand.
How then did the church become a kind of “Sunday Spa”? Where did this “Jacuzzi Jesus” come from? Where and when did we decide that our faith, our discipleship journey, was a weekly “sit and soak” respite.
“The General” and President of the French Fifth Republic Charles De Gaulle once contentedly sighed, “Church is the only place you could go and somebody talks, but you don’t have to say anything back.”
The problem is that De Gaulle’s attitude at non-engagement still rings true today. In too many churches “discipleship” is defined as “attendance,” not participation. Woody Allen is noted for saying 90 percent of life is “just showing up.”
That is NOT the case for discipleship. We have not been called just to “show up.” We have been called to “participate” in Jesus’ life, and to continue his story. We have been, in the phrase of Julian of Norwich, “We are one with God” when we are “one with Christ.” Even Plato understood that the human species was designed by God for participation, not mere attendance: Plato declared that human reason was nothing less than our ability to “participate in the Divine mind.”
Let me put this another way: disciples of Jesus have been called to “dramatize” the gospel. To live it out each and every day.
“Drama” comes from the Greek word which means “to do.” The Incarnation is all about God’s drama of salvation, and God’s invitation for us to join in God’s drama of salvation. God didn’t just say “I love you.” God wants nothing more than your love for others be a dramatic reflection of your love for Him! In Christ, God lived in our midst, loved us to death, and He loves us to day.
The church needs more drama, not less.
Disciples of Jesus lead lives of drama because they “participated” their faith.
We may tell others not to be such a “drama queen,” but Jesus called his followers to be drama disciples. To live in expectancy, not just expectation.
One of my favorite moments in the best-seller The Shack is this great comparison between expectancy and expectation. In a chapter called, “Verbs and other freedoms,” William P. Young talks about institutions of marriage, of religion, politics and economics. His thesis is that our hope for the future in each one of these arenas is in changing our speech from stagnant nouns to dramatic verbs.
Expectancy is alive and active. Expectation is passive. Do you have that expectancy that God will use you as an instrument of His love?
Jesus taught his disciples to live with expectancy, not expectation; to be dramatic agents of action from the moment they are called. If the church is to be the Body of Christ incarnate, we as disciples are called to that same drama energies, that same dramatic engagements and expectancy. The Body of Christ “incarnate” depends upon our drama, our activity, our participation, in order to remain vital and alive.
As we remember those brave men and women who participated in serving and dying for our nation, we, as the body of Christ are called to participate in our spiritual quest to be active and vital disciples.
- We participate by being the eyes, hands, and feet to our community.
- We participate by serving within and beyond the walls of this church.
- We participate by treating one another with generosity and kindness.
- We participate by challenging each one of us to be more loving and sympathetic.
- We participate be living with the expectancy that through our sharing and sacrifice we can change the world for the sake of the Gospel.
Are you ready to step unto that beach of Christian discipleship? If so, remember that your participation will never be in vain. You act of faithfulness will never be forgotten!