Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
One of the most difficult and yet refreshing things for me to wrap my head around has been the joyful discovery that God actually does not expect me to become someone or something I’m not in order to be totally, 100% engaged in his work in this world. There are so many stereotypical versions of what it means to be a disciple, or a follower of Christ and I don’t really care for any of ‘em! Confession: I know deep down that the images presented to me of “sold out”, “on fire” Christians just aren’t me or who I even want to be.
It’s not that I don’t want to follow Jesus with all my heart. I do. But it’s got to be real. When I’m made to feel like I have to act a certain way to follow Jesus, that’s what it seems like—acting.
Sorry. Can’t do it. But my joyful discovery has been that Jesus didn’t seem to be acting. Neither did his disciples. They were real guys who had been changed by Jesus. They still functioned within their own personalities; they were still them. Peter was still an impulsive people pleaser and still made some stupid mistakes. Thomas was still a skeptic. Paul was still a get’er done kind of guy, a forceful, off the charts A Type personality. James was still the behind the scenes brother of Jesus, but now he was leading the Jerusalem Church. Here’s what Jesus did for them—he’d accepted them as they were; he’d influenced them profoundly with his own example, and he’d enabled them all to become “fishers of men” within their own personalities. That’s huge for all of us.
Jesus is our only necessary model. And he wasn’t stereotypical in any sense. Thank God! As we learn to live like Jesus, he will give us natural opportunities to talk about him with others who are trying to find purpose in living. As we follow Jesus, learning from him, we’ll all have something to pass on to others, who in turn will pass on his good news. We don’t have to know it all, but we can all share what we know.
As we are intentional about following Jesus, people will be watching and they’ll want to know what makes us tick. I think this is what Peter, who at one time in his life was afraid to admit that he knew Jesus and was even afraid to be seen associating with Gentiles by his Jewish friends, discovered. He later wrote this: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (I Peter 3:15)
The best disciple-makers are real people like you and me. No acting. No façade. Not perfect, just genuine people living out their faith, following Jesus and intentionally sharing with others what they’re learning from him as they go. Can you do that? I bet you can.