This week I am posting a series of reflections on discipleship.
‘When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick...When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.’
(Luke 9:1-2, 10-17)
Jesus models for us what discipleship is about. Having invited his disciples to be with him, and having spoken grace and vision to them when it got hard, he starts to involve them in what he does, even sending them out ahead of him. There are lessons here that we need to learn, both about being a disciple and about discipling others.
Firstly, on being a disciple. Being a disciple is not just about revering a teacher; it is about learning to live the way they live, to do the things they do. That is why Jesus gives us his power and authority, to usher-in his kingdom, to set people free from the devil’s rule in their lives.
Secondly, on being someone who disciples others. Jesus sends his disciples out to have a go, but he isn’t far behind them, he’s there for them to come back to. Jesus notices the moments of opportunity for them to discover something new about the kingdom of heaven, to play a part in it breaking in to people’s lives...and to challenge his disciples to see circumstances from a heavenly perspective, not an earthly one. What is impossible from our point-of-view is not impossible with God!
Jesus’ disciples start to move from ‘conscious incompetence’ to ‘conscious competence.’ This is the third stage disciples go through in learning something new: the stage where you find that you can do it too, and are growing in confidence, but you are aware you still have a lot to learn: it doesn’t come naturally to you yet. Whether learning to drive a car, or to pray and see our prayers answered, we all pass through this stage.
Where do you see yourself moving into conscious competence as a disciple? In hearing God’s voice? In seeing healing? Give God thanks for what he is doing...and ask him what more he wants to show you.