Welcome to Alpha United Methodist Church!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
A place to worship, a place to grow and a place to serve!
A WORD FROM TOM
I recently heard a powerful sermon by a great preacher who said that the word “Christian” seems to have lots of definitions these days. If you ask 100 people what it means to be a Christian, you’re liable to get dozens of different answers. And in our country today, the word Christian can even be controversial. I know some people who, if you asked them, “Are you a Christian?” would want to answer, “Yes, but I’m not that type of Christian” (meaning: judgmental, hypocritical, arrogant, holier-than-thou, whatever they are fearing the other person thinks of “Christians” these days).
What’s interesting is Jesus didn’t use the word “Christian.” He talked a lot more about making disciples. Soon after he left, yes, his disciples did become known as Christians, but it was at first a derogatory term applied to them by outsiders. But those in the Jesus movement early on would have asked, “Are you a disciple?”
Now saying you’re a disciple, in my opinion, is harder than just saying you’re a Christian. Because discipleship implies something. It implies that you’re following Jesus, that you’re on the move, taking action, and growing.
Jesus encountered lots of people during his earthly ministry, but not all of them became disciples. But for those who did, there seemed to be a pattern. First, “Come and see.” (John 1) Jesus invited people to check him out and investigate who he was. Then, “Follow me.” (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 5, John 1, and elsewhere) Jesus asked people to leave everything and radically change their life by following him completely. But that was not a one-time decision. Then, Jesus commanded his followers to “Abide in me.” (John 15) Being a disciple meant remaining intimately connected to God so that ongoing transformation would take place. And finally, Jesus commanded his disciples to “Go and make disciples.” (Matthew 28) Being a disciple of Jesus necessarily means offering this beautiful way of life that leads to eternal life to all the people we encounter.
This Sunday we begin a new series called DISCIPLE, where we will walk through these four stages. Most churches tend to emphasize one of these stages more than others. Some churches are loaded with programs geared towards “abiding” but far fewer are out making new disciples. And some individual Christians (or pre-Christians) can get stuck in the process and not become a fully formed, mature follower of Jesus Christ. Some of us decided to follow, but we didn’t learn how to abide. Some of us may have launched out to make disciples but had not ourselves learned to follow Jesus. Sometimes people get stuck at “Come and see” but haven’t learned to make the glorious leap of trusting Christ and following Him as Lord.
This is a great opportunity to get re-centered as a disciple of Jesus yourself, and it’s also a great way to bring people to “Come and see” for themselves this incredible man Jesus who has changed our lives.
See you Sunday,
Dec 2 “Inbreaking Begins” Luke 3:1-6
Dec 9 “Axes, Pitchforks, and Fire” Luke 3:7-18
Dec 16 Christmas Cantata
Dec 23 “When God Flexes His Muscles” Luke 1:39-55
Mon, Dec 24 “Good News, Great Joy, All People” Luke 2:1-20
Dec 30 “Teenage Break-in” Luke 2:41-52