KOH2RVA: Day 149

Personal TrainerMy friend Peter is a personal trainer at the Jewish Community Center.  He is also a committed Christian.  Yesterday he asked me how far he should go with the Great Commission in a place like that.

“Well, that depends,” I answered, “on whether you’re trying to make converts or disciples.

“When you try to make a convert,” I said, “you’re hoping to bring somebody around to your worldview.  You want them to believe all the things you believe.  As a Christian, you might want them to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, that he rose from the dead, etc.  And if you try to do that here, at the Jewish Community Center, you might lose your job.

“But making a disciple is different,” I said.  “Look at the way Jesus made them: he didn’t ask those fishermen to believe that he was the Son of God, he just asked them to follow him.  It was only after months of listening to him preach and teach, watching him help and heal, that Jesus asked them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’  And that’s when Peter said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!’

“So, why not simply invite people to join you in Christ’s mission, instead of trying to convert them to a Christian worldview?  Eventually they will come to see him for who he really is.”

And then I talked to Peter about his work as a personal trainer.  I said, “You don’t want people to sit out in the lobby and read fitness magazines; you want them to come in here and work out.  You don’t want them only to believe that exercise is good for them; you want them to experience it.  When they do, you won’t have to convince them; they will know it for themselves.  That’s the difference,” I said, “between a convert and a disciple.”

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned Warren and Julie Pierce, who have been helping refugees get resettled here in Richmond.  Today I want to share this invitation from Julie (below) to help out with a massive clothing distribution for New Americans (i.e. refugees) this Saturday.  This could be your opportunity to follow Jesus in discipleship and to invite someone else to come with you.  You don’t have to say, “If you died tonight do you know where you would spend eternity?” (the standard street-corner evangelist’s question).  You can just say, “Hey, I’m going to help distribute clothes to refugees on Saturday…

“Want to come?”

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Dear ones, this is a two part message –

(1) an opportunity for you to bring heaven to earth and

(2) an update on the New American ministry

We appreciate your time in reading this, and also your response whether in person or through much needed prayer.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, NKJV).

We are offering another of our quarterly massive clothing distribution events hosted by Westover Baptist Church, 1000 Westover Hills Boulevard, just across the Nickel Bridge.

Saturday, February 9th

8:00-9:00am Team needed at Outreach Center** to load clothing bins & hanging clothes – transport to Westover BC and unload (trucks/station wagons needed)

9:00-10:30am Set up team needed to unpack and display clothing on tables and on hanging racks

10:30-11:30am Actual event

11:30am-noon Break down – load bins/racks and transport back to Outreach Center, all leftover clothing to Goodwill

12:00-12:30pm Sweep and clean church

All done in ½ day!

Any questions, please respond to this email and if you can volunteer for all or part, thanks for letting us know. If you have donations, you may bring them on that day to Westover BC, however, they must be received during the set up time between 9:00-10:30am. Thanks for bringing dresses, blouses, all coats and men’s shirts on hangers if possible on that day. We are in desperate need of coats, hoodies, sweaters; all sizes, all types. We have very few men’s clothes at this time. Please take a look in your closets and get those to us before February 9th.

**Outreach Center address: 2944 West Marshall St. 23230 3rd building back from corner faces Altamont, yellow w/brown doors.

–Julie Pierce

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Editor’s Note: Julie is being ordained as a deacon tonight.  Do you see what happens when you begin to follow Jesus and work alongside him to bring heaven to earth?  People notice.

A Christian Way of Being Human

On the first Sunday of every month I climb the stairs to Room 243 to teach our newcomers class.  My assignment is to talk about “a Christian way of being human,” and I like to begin with an emphasis on the word way.

Some people will tell you that to be Christian you have to believe certain things.  You have to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin.  You have to believe that he rose from the dead.  You have to believe that he’s coming again.  But have you noticed that, when Jesus called those first disciples, he didn’t mention any of those things?  He just said, “Follow me,” and those fishermen dropped their nets and followed. 

Christianity begins with a commitment—not to a set of beliefs, but to a person—to Jesus.  It starts for us when we drop whatever we’re doing to follow him.  Those first disciples were able to do that literally.  It’s harder for us, but it’s not impossible.  One of the best ways I’ve found to follow is to read the four Gospels closely—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—to look at the things Jesus does there and to listen to the things he says.  In this way I learn who Jesus is and what he’s up to, and the word disciple, at its root, means “learner.”  A disciple is a kind of apprentice who watches the master, who learns his craft and studies his moves.  As we follow Jesus through the Gospels we can do the same. 

One of the things we will notice if we do that is that Jesus spends a lot of time talking about the Kingdom of God.  In the four Gospels combined he makes reference to the Kingdom some 120 times.  And when his disciples ask him to teach them to pray he says, “Pray for this: pray that God’s Kingdom would come, and God’s will would be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).  Being a disciple in our time means being an answer to that prayer; it means working alongside Jesus to bring heaven to earth.

How do we do that?  It’s simple: we look around for anything that doesn’t look like heaven and we go to work there.  And the good news is that we get to look through our own eyes.  The thing that breaks our heart may be the very thing God is calling us to do.  That was certainly true for Jesus. 

I think this is the “Christian way of being human.”  It’s not just believing things about Jesus (although I find that the more time I spend with him the more I believe about him).  It’s believing in Jesus.  It’s following him so closely and so passionately that you begin to do the things he would do, and say the things he would say, and love the things he would love.  It’s becoming more and more like him until people—even some of the people who know you best—begin to say,

“You know, you remind me of someone…”