Day One:“We tend to lose sight of the centrality of the Christian life as a practice, as a distinct way of living (to live a life walking in the ways of Jesus). Instead, we focus on getting our theology just right.” Vreeland . Most of us don’t need more theology or more information, we need to practice – to put into play – the ways and teachings of Jesus in our everyday ordinary lives, as our lives intersect and connect with everyday people. Read Mark 6:6-13. Think about what the 12 knew about what we would describe as the gospel at that time. What did they know of the cross? The resurrection? What didthey know? They knew that Jesus lived and taught that the Kingdom of God had come to them and that living in that Kingdom looked nothing like living in the kingdom of the world. They knew that as they spent time with Jesus, listened to his teachings, watched how he lived, and following His ways, they saw life and were becoming different people. They were starting to resemble Jesus. The model is learning and doing, learning and doing, taking a step, messing up, but all the while learning and doing…with others.Who are you learning and doing with? Who are you processing “out” what God is doing “within”?
Day Two:The instructions that Jesus gave the 12 were specific and unique for that time and those 12. Instead of coming to scripture and taking these words to mean that we are to go in the exact same manner, we ask for wisdom from God. “What can we discover about what Jesus was trying to teach the 12?” “How can we bring His life and teaching to life in our time and place?” What might we learn from Jesus instructing the 12 to enter the homes (and lives) of those they encountered? As the 12 were sent out they were going to not only be giving to those they encountered, they were going to be in need of receiving as well. Recognizing that we need to learn from others as much as they can learn from us guards us from pride and seeing others as projects in need of only what we can give.
Day Three: Who are your 12? Your 3? Your 1? Just as each of us can point to several individuals who had a significant impact on our lives, we can be those people in the lives of others. Neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teammates, …providential relationships. We already have them, we’re not asked to wait for God to bring someone, the call is “as you go” so look around, who are you already interacting with? Who do you already have connection with or share a common interest? Who is seated around you at your kids games? What would it look like to move from a “proximity relationship” to developing a friendship? Invite a classmate or a parent at the game for coffee. See your neighbor tackling a yard job? Ask if they need some help. Notice those who are already around you, you’re already there, so take a step to get to know someone. You can live this individually and as a family. A great opportunity is right around the corner with Halloween. Consider how you might use this opportunity to get to know some of your neighbors, the people who are already around you?
Day Four: Discipling, sharing life and faith doesn’t happen in a classroom. It happens in places like hospital waiting rooms, coffee shops, living rooms, kitchen tables, ball fields, bike rides, and breakrooms. It happens in real life. Being a disciple and making disciples is not about teaching or memorizing information, it is about sharing and living a life of following Jesus with others. Discovering what it looks like to follow Jesus when you lose your job. Start a family. Hit health issues. Run a business. We figure out what living like Jesus looks like when relationships are strained, when life is amazing and when it is disappointing. Talking about what we are learning about God and who He is in our struggles is discipling. Encouraging one another, praying for one another, being there for one another is how we influence others and are influenced. Who are these people in your life? Small groups can be one of the best ways discipling is experienced and lived out. Are you in a group? Are you as a group committed to this kind of life-relationship? Consider taking time to talk together as a group about how you are doing with this? Do adjustments need to be made? Do you spend time talking about your lives? What is really going on? Or do you just answer questions? Take the risk of deepening your relationships. It can be messy, awkward, it’s a risk, but it is the way of following Jesus.
Day Five: Have you ever felt like you were someone’s project? That they had some kind of agenda for you? Maybe it was to steer you from those awesome stone-washed 80’s jeans or to see the beauty of going vegan? Nobody likes to be a project, especially a spiritual project. As we cultivate relationships, we must be careful not to attach an agenda to them. Loving others is what we are called to do, agendas just get in the way. Mutuality of relationship eliminates the spiritual project aspect. We each make the other better by sharing our life together. Maybe you are a Christian and your friend isn’t. Check your motives as you pursue relationships. Can you love and relate to this person as they are? Do you see your relationship as one of mutual influence? Do you believe they have things they can teach you? Or do you see yourself as the teacher and them as your student?