29th Day of Easter: Do as I do or as I say?

Jesus’ farewell, his famous last words from the mountaintop to the five hundred gathered have deeply impacted the trajectory of Christianity.  Matthew 28:19 records the speech, not as a list of thanks-yous for support and comradeship as we might do today, not as a form of blessing as the patriarch Jacob did for his twelve sons as he lay on his death bed, and not as Nathan Hale did before being hanged, “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  Jesus claimed all authority on heaven and earth and told his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.”  Let’s think about that!

         A disciple is “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosophe.”  Followers by definition follow someone and usually because that someone is a model of a life or an ideal that is admired.  Gandhi set an example that changed the world by living a life of peaceful non-violent resistance.  Martin Luther King Jr. continued in those footprints, leading the Civil Rights movement.  The mandate to make disciples must start with being a person who is believable and leads a life worth emanating.  Making disciples, I would offer, requires that I become and be a person worthy of having a follower.  I fear we often think of this passage and being a leader as being people with bold rhetoric, flaming zeal, painting a reality that gathers people around to head to the same goal as the person speaking.  Is a disciple maker is someone who gathers people to go to heaven or is the person someone who inspires others to follow the teacher, the leader, the philosophe of Jesus?  Jesus is speaking to his “disciples,” his followers who are to emanate him – healing, loving, and laying down their life and fame for the other.

         This command challenges me to reflect on the models I try to emanate and who have deeply impacted my life.  Likewise I might reflect on whether my life embodies the qualities I pray others will seek to incorporate into their lives.  Or, maybe, I am a “do as I say and not as I do” sort of person.  Making disciples requires that I am a disciple.  So whom am I emanating today?  Who are my heroes and what qualities do I appreciate in their lives?  Think of one or two people (they can be literary, historical, or other) who have deeply impacted the values of your life and spend a moment thanking God for the gift of their presence in your life. We all impact the lives of the people around us.  Let us pray that they see the Christ we love, in us “going” to all nations, not just friends.  Blessings.

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