Submitted by Pastor Julie Sanders Tarkio/Westboro UMC
Discipleship is what Jesus taught. He said things like, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men,” “Do for others as I have done for you,” “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus wants us to go into the world and make a difference. He wants us to share with others the life changing message that was shared with us.
There’s a story about a family from southern Missouri. Now, I can share this because I am from a small town, Dora, in Southern Missouri. This family made their way to the big city for the very first time. The father and son walked into the Drury Hotel where they encountered for the very first time, an elevator. As they stood there wondering what this machine was, two, very frail women, walking with walkers, got into the elevator. The doors closed, the machine made a noise and within moments, the doors opened again and out stepped two young, beautiful women. After witnessing this the son asked, “Did you see that, Pa?” With excitement, the dad said, “Sure did. Why don’t you go out and get your Ma? Let’s put her in there and see if that thing will do the same for her.”
I think this is how many of us view discipleship. We go out, rounding up all the people we know and then we put them in the church, hoping they will come out differently. When the doors open and they come out the same, we are often disappointed. Some of us even give up, thinking the machine is broken. Why go through all the effort of rounding people up, getting them to church, if nothing changes? Maybe we too misunderstand the machine standing before us.
Elevators do not transform the people inside. The purpose of an elevator is to take you to the right floor. When I step in an elevator, I choose a floor, and I expect to arrive on that floor. Elevators are about destination, right? What if discipleship is about making sure people understand how to arrive at their destination? What if discipleship looked more like coming beside others and showing them what the Christian faith looked like? What if discipleship looked more like coming together, small groups, potluck dinners, youth groups, outreach and missions?
In many ways, discipleship is that strange looking machine that we are unsure what it is, we just notice sometimes people come out differently. And so, we assume it’s our job to change people, to heal people, to save people, to fill the church, to fill Sunday school. And when we fail, we are discouraged. What if that’s God’s job? What if God does the changing? And we do the connecting? I wonder what it would look like if instead of finding people to put in the elevator, we stepped into the elevator with them and made sure they reached the right floor? Will you join with me in praying that God will continue to strengthen each of us for the ministry he has called us to?