About seven years ago, I had an “Aha!” moment. My eyes were opened to the individualism that defines the American experience. I was taking a sociology class and one of the texts placed major countries or regions of the world on a scale of individualism. Not surprising, the United States was on the top of the list as the most individualistic nation in the world. With individualism comes independence. As Americans, we believe it’s all about me.
This got me thinking about how the gospel is communicated in the USA. It is a highly individualistic gospel. The gospel is about me, my salvation, and the benefits afforded me by being a Christian. Ever since that time, I’ve been on a pursuit to understand the gospel according to Jesus and the first apostles.
From my reading in Mark lately, I’ve seen a pattern. When Jesus preached the gospel he said, “the kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe this good news.” When he called his disciples he simply said, “Follow me.” When he called the apostles, Mark writes that they were to be with him, to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons. What stands out to me with Jesus’ interaction with his followers is that they were to be focused on him, not themselves. This is part of what it means to be a disciple. A disciples life is not his/her own. As I wrote last week, “Disciple means learner. Jesus taught his disciples along the way of life. To be a disciple of Jesus meant to be in relationship with him and be in community with him and the other disciples. The disciple learned from the master, Jesus, and from the other disciples.” If we receive Jesus’ calling to be his disciple, we enter into a covenant with him and the community of disciples he as called. Like the apostles, we are to be with him, live a life of faithful testimony, and to make a difference in the world around us. When we ask, “What’s in it for me?” we begin to question our role as a disciple. This happened to Peter in Mark 10:28-30.
Peter said to him, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, ” I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life-houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment) -and in the coming age, eternal life.
In our following Jesus, may we find complete satisfaction in his care for us and embrace our responsibility to love him by loving one another.
Grace and peace,