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Qualities to nurture in a follower of Jesus (Post one)

I've come to the conclusion that are some very important qualities that need to be cultivated today - in emerging leaders - in all of us - in me. One of these that has being bouncing around the last couple of years is a teachable spirit. By this I mean people who have a humble heart, a person who is quick to listen, someone who can have their faith or theology robustly challenged and not freak out, a person who can sit with mystery, and tension, a person who does shift in understanding, and in practice, a person who wants to learn from others,someone who carries honestly their doubts, questions and uncertainty, people grounded, and authentic and real.

Tony Campolo said something on the "Quest" training sessions, that had an enormous impact on me. It was something to the effect of "If you cannot entertain the possibility you are wrong, then you are not engaging in dialogue". Darryl once made the comment (im sure he stole from someone else) that "a mind expanded will never return to its original size". The issue with some of us is that we are often hang round of the same "ilk". It has being my great privilege to travel the width and breadth of the country and spend time with people from all sorts of different approaches and theologies in the last year, and it is so exciting to see the Wellington crew start to honestly yarn about following Jesus, and discuss our different approaches and understandings. We are truly better off for it when we can critique each other and models around us in a spirit of love and with a genuine desire to see the Kingdom of God grow, the Church be all it can be, and young people discover this incredible God that loves them to bits. But to honestly be people "that could be wrong..." woah, that is huge stuff.

At its best, I think this is where blogging can be really interesting place where people with different views on things can engage and wrestle in a constructive dialogue. At its worst its a bun fight with people very intrenched in their own positions and hardly any positive dialogue taking place. Its pretty easy to make big statements (ive made a few of them) that you would probably not say in public.
At its best the emerging church movement gives freedom to un-learn, and maybe re-learn what it is to be Church. At its worst, it throws the baby out with the bathwater and arrogantly declares that "we can do it better, more authentically than anyone before us".

I would argue that we should value theological study (of any sort) is important - it scares me how often young leaders think they know the bible and butcher scripture in their talks, or how much faith is built around an incredibly small understanding of the bible. I sat through a talk recently in which a young bubbly guest speaker at a combined event proceeded to give the complete opposite message to the book of Ruth from which he was basing his talk. I'm not sure if it was that, or that kids that went for it hook line and sinker that scared me more... but I digress on a tangent. My point is that we should all attempt to be scholars of varying degrees, we all have a theological framework whether we call it that or not. There is so much to discover in scripture, and its a book that we will never get to the bottom of. But it is incredible exciting to discover the truth, and to reflect on its application. Hebrews 6 begins by saying "We must try to become mature and start thinking about more than just the basic things we were taught about Christ. We shouldn't need to keep talking about why we ought to turn from deeds that bring death and why we ought to have faith in God". (CEV)

I believe that this is part of the command to "work out our faith with fear and trembling" (Phillipians 2:12). We need to encourage ourselves and young people to grow up, to stop being spoon fed, to realize that you are not a bad Christian if you don't believe everything said from the front. We need to remind each other that you don't have to act a certain way in church to be loved by God. We need to constantly talk about the God that He loves us to bits, the grace that is freely ours. To follow Jesus is to wrestle with what it means to follow Him, it is to feel uncomfortable, it is to pursue His truth not our culture no matter what it costs us.
In saying that we don't need the opposite. The truth is that you don't know it all. You don't have it sorted. The way you are out-working your faith is flawed. And so is mine. Welcome to existence.

And so in conclusion. We do not need more speakers. We need more listeners who sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from the greatest Rabbi there is and ever has being. We need people that can sit with the doubt, and the mystery, people who are not precious about their theological position, but can honestly say "I could be wrong". And more than anything, people who pursue truth, honesty and integrity, that we would continue to explore what it means to follow Jesus, and what it means to outworks his teaching today. Lets not pretend this is easy. It requires enormous amounts of courage to live this sort of life. But I believe that Jesus is the Truth, as well as the way and the life. And Truth loves being discovered.

And so we hold on to this beautiful promise in Phillipians 1:6 "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears". (MSG Version)

Sorry for the mini sermon... gotta learn how to write this stuff without sounding like a blimmin school teacher. However If you wanna come forward to the altar call, you can do so now... ; )


“Qualities to nurture in a follower of Jesus (Post one)”

  1. Blogger Andrew Says:

    Good stuff there Sam. I get worried when I read some of the stuff that people write online or what I hear people say. I think it is good to question what we see and hear (those who know me know I question a lot!), but I think it is dangerous how some people criticise other groups of believers for the way they worship or follow Jesus. Are we questioning or judging? Often there seems to be no room for the possibility that God could also be with them and working through them.
    Sometime the most painful thing for me has been when someone has cut through my opinionated, narrow and self righteous viewpoint with a quiet comment that has stopped me in my tracks and I realise I'm wrong. I'm glad I have some of those kind of people around me!