This week I am posting a series of reflections on discipleship.
‘“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”’
(John 13:34, 35)
‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
(1 Corinthians 13:1-7)
Discipleship is about learning to live as Jesus lived, to do the things he did (and even greater things). But the crucial evidence that we are disciples is this: that we love one another. If we don’t, none of the rest of it is worth anything...
Love is...difficult. People can be so hard to love at times. Paul wrote a list that we look at and say, “If only I was more like that.” “If only I was more like that...but I’m not.”
This week, we’ve thought about discipleship. On Monday, we thought about discipleship as imitating those who have leant lessons we want to learn too. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we reflected on discipleship as a process that takes us from ‘unconscious incompetence,’ through ‘conscious incompetence’ and ‘conscious competence’ to ‘unconscious competence.’ From not knowing that we are to love one another...through recognizing that we can’t do it...and slowly learning how to love one another...to loving one another as Jesus has first loved us, clear evidence to our neighbours of God at work in our lives.
If we want to love one another, we need to learn patience, kindness, contentment, humility, self-control, servant-heartedness, forgiveness, purity, self-sacrifice, joy, trust, hope, perseverance...
In what ways does your life already demonstrate love, and in what ways does it reveal what you still need to know? Perhaps you can pass on the secret of contentment, but need to learn the secret of trust, for example.
As we seek to love one another, this will be expressed in discipling and being discipled by one another. Because discipleship happens together, in a community identified above all else by love...