Journey: It’s All About Identity

Read: “Join the Adventure!”

Most of my years in ordained ministry have been spent in a church committed to moving people from membership to discipleship.  God has blessed this effort enough for us to know we have been on the right track.

But hardly a week goes by that I do not read something or hear something about how difficult it is to get most Christians interested in discipleship.  A membership mentality still prevails across institutional Christianity.  Over and over, I have asked myself why we cannot seem to move beyond this with the majority of Christian folks.

In this week’s reading, McLaren names the problem and calls it out:  we have trouble interesting people in discipleship because they do not realize (or accept the fact) that they are disciples.

Put simply, “disciple” must precede “discipleship”–identity comes before investment.

The devil knew that, so he attacked Jesus’ identity in the three temptations, with each one beginning, “if you are the Son of God…”  The devil knew that if Jesus lost touch with his identity, he could never engage in his mission.

And so it goes twenty one centuries later.  If we have lost (or never recognized) our identity as disciples, we will never find (or accept) our mission of discipleship. 

Jesus held onto his identity, and by doing so he could engage in his mission.  And still today,when we understand that we are disciples, every moment of every day is an opportunity to engage in our discipleship.  Every word and action is an occasion for us to follow Jesus and join the adventure!

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Journey: It’s All About Identity

  1. jimharnish says:

    Amen! I can bear witness to a sign of hope that the mission of “making disciples for the transformation of the world” is taking hold in many places throughout the denomination and that the response to “A Disciple’s Path” has been beyond all of our expectations. There is a hunger within many congregations to move beyond being members to becoming disciples. Thanks for encouraging it!

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