We like to live in a world of certainty, of answers, of approval, of knowing.
Do you love me? Will I be okay? Will we be okay? Will this end well? Do you love me? What if I do that? What if we do that? What if they do that? Do you love me?
There are times I read the “behind closed doors” stuff with Jesus and the disciples and ponder. Did they have the same baseline? Because reading some of the private stuff I wonder. We have hindsight. We have the wisdom of hindsight. We have the knowing. But for those twelve ordinary chaps … ?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. John 14:27-31
I have been part of disciple sessions. Behind closed doors. With a complete absence of hindsight as conversations ranged and flowed – and no wisdom at all!
Where is the structure? What is the purpose? Where is this going? Why are we doing this? What are we learning? How is this helping? Is it just me that doesn’t get this? How much longer is this going on for … ?
And other times it is wonderful, brilliant, enlightening, fun (others times most definitely not). I have found we prefer fellowship. Always fellowship rather than discipleship. Fellowship is fun. Fellowship starts and stops. Fellowship demands little and offers lots. But discipling? Not so much of in my experience.
Discipling goes deeper than surface chit-chat. Discipling cuts across recognised hierarchies, structures, and established ways of doing things. And that makes good Christians nervous. That makes “people” nervous. Nervous of vulnerability. Of confusion. Of trusting. Of having faith. And of “love” really being enough. It is a journey of discovery, but so often seen as a journey of chaos: Unsettling. Uncomfortable. And unwise.
Where will it end? Nowhere good probably. Probably end up selling the house, the car, moving the kids to some godforsaken hell-hole all in the name of “following Him.” I have my ministry. I have a full diary of kingdom work. Why would I want to add more stuff? How does that help God? We are comfortable here. We have a good church and good friends. I help with the homeless, I work with the church, I reach out to the young. So I don’t see where this fits. I don’t see how this helps me. I don’t see how this grows me as a Christian.
“I am going away, and I am coming to you.”
Jesus said that – so that makes it okay. Jesus said that – and He knows what He is talking about. He meant He was leaving us the Holy Spirit – what is not to get?
And I hear the dusty disciples thinking words that never got into the Gospels: What the f**k is He on about now? Look at Thomas rolling his eyes! He doesn’t get it either! Just when I think I have this nailed down tight, He opens His mouth and off we go again. Where is the structure? What is His point here? How is this helping?
“Rise, let us be on our way.”
Ah good! Time for more healing and feeding. Wonder where we will get baskets from today … or is it sitting them all down … forming orderly queues … keeping those noisy ankle-biters from running riot … maybe more verbal fisticuffs with the establishment … ? Now THAT is fun to watch! Although I have to confess being partial to be a bit of demon exorcising … Hey-ho, anything other than sitting around the campfire listening to all this gobbledygook … it does my head in! Bizzy bizzy bizzy … that’s the way forwards!
So I wonder as I read these verses – another “behind closed doors insight” from the dusty peeps …
When we read these verses together (and always with the “wisdom of hindsight”), just how will we ever “get“ being uncomfortable together … ?
When will we ever look at each other as disciples rather than sheep? When will we ever grow into shepherds? When will we ever graduate from Sunday School?
And just when will we ever really “walk in faith” … to really “walk on water” … to really “get” walking on water … ? Because if we never really want to …
Just who are we following (and why)?