Disciples Learn Through Action Part 1

A disciple is a follower or a learner. When Jesus commanded us to make disciples in the Great Commandment in Matthew 28:18-20, people knew what he was talking about. Back before the printing press, schools, colleges, universities, and online learning, you learned by following someone. You spent your life with them, doing what they did, listening to them coach and teach you.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

How to Learn

We learn by doing. However, in the 20th and 21st centuries, we have separated learning from doing. Information is everywhere. Much of what passes for teaching is simply forcing people to memorize information and “play it back” on a test so we can get a diploma. Information has become a commodity.

As a result, many in the church attempt to grow as disciples by only reading, studying and talking about what Jesus did, rather than by doing the things Jesus did.

We don’t ask people to do the work of a disciple because we know most people have a job. For some hours each day, they don’t control their time. Their full-time job requires them to work for someone else. Maybe they work in an office or at a factory. Or maybe they have to travel for work. Maybe they’re stay-at-home parents busy with kids.

Because of their need to work for a living, we can’t expect workplace Christians to take part in any of our programs or do much “ministry” while they’re at work. On Sunday or after work, well that’s different. Then, we ask them to work in the nursery or stack chairs, teach, or deliver food. They can have a prayer meeting before breakfast.

We ask them to take part in “church” work in their discretionary time after work. But in their non-discretionary time, followers of Jesus just need to stay out of trouble and maintain their work life balance.

The Work of a Disciple is Ministry

Ministry, or service is what disciples do. Jesus called us to serve others. When we serve others “in the name of Jesus” we serve others because Jesus gave us the idea and directs our actions. He prompted us to take the action.

Our focus on a disciples’ discretionary time sends a message that their non-discretionary time, when they “work for someone else” is off limits. “Surely God doesn’t expect you to try to evangelize your coworkers!” “You can’t say those kinds of things in the workplace!”

How do we allow Jesus to claim his dominion over our non-discretionary time? Would you share your ideas about how we cooperate with Jesus as he transforms our non-discretionary time?

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