Discipleship THE CIRCLE DANCE OF
ORTHOPRAXY ANiSA /// ISSUE 4
IN THIS ISSUE /// EDITORIAL: FOLLOWING IN THE WAY OF JESUS OBEDIENCE - A TREASURED INHERITANCE: REFLECTIONS ON BEING A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST /// Danisa Ndlovu BETWEEN FENCING AND FOLLOWING: ORTHODOXY AND ORTHOPRAXY /// Corbus van Wyngaard REDEFINING FAITH /// Andrew Suderman BEING PLACED ENVIRONMENTALLY AS WE FOLLOW JESUS /// Allen Goddard COMMUNITIES MAKE DISCIPLES /// Arthur Stewart DISCIPLESHIP AS EMBODIED IMAGINATION /// Tom Smith DISCIPLESHIP AS TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS /// Sindile ‘Magic’ Vabaza DISCIPLESHIP: LEVELS OF UNDERSTANDING /// Roger Saner DISCIPLESHIP: LESSONS FROM THE ROAD /// Johan vd Merwe ANiSA LIBRARY, READERS RESPOND & A REDERS E-ZINE
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WHAT IS ANiSA? The Anabaptist Network in South Africa is a network of people, churches, and organizations that together explore and embrace a radical faith in Jesus Christ and lifestyle that is nourished by the example found within the Anabaptist movement. In wanting to be authentically rooted in Christâ€™s peace and justice for all people we seek to walk with, support, and nurture communities of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
WHY THE E-ZINE? The purpose of the ANiSA ezine is to agitate, provoke, challenge, and nurture peopleâ€™s thinking and imaginations as we explore and wrestle with what it means to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the South African context.
DISCLAIMER The ANiSA ezine seeks to provide a variety of opinions relating to faith, theology, politics, culture, peace and justice. Opinions expressed in this ezine do not necessarily represent the position of ANiSA.
LAYOUT, PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN /// Steven Schallert
FOLLOWING IN THE WAY OF JESUS Jesus’ invitation to “follow me” has been and is probably one of the most difficult invitations to respond to. This was an invitation to become a follower of Jesus, one of his disciples. The response to this invitation was (and is!) a costly one. It led to rejection, isolation, and persecution as ordinary people, as they followed the way of Jesus, lived differently in the world. Perhaps because of how costly discipleship has been, it is more common for Christians to describe themselves as “believers” instead of as “followers”. We have, in other words, diminished the way in which we respond to Jesus’ invitation by accepting that we will not be able to follow in the way of Jesus. We therefore commit to believe in Jesus (yet sometimes we even find it difficult to do this!). It is much easier—and less costly—to simply believe in Jesus than to try to follow in his footsteps. It is noteworthy that, according to Mark’s g o s p e l , Je s u s ’ fi r s t wo rd s a re t h e pronouncement that the Kingdom of God has arrived. Indeed, it is this arrival that is declared as “good news” – as gospel. We are then invited to respond to this news that is good – “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). It is not enough to simply believe that this pronouncement is true, but
we are invited to repent, to turn our lives around in light of this news. Immediately after this first invitation to respond to Jesus’ good news do we encounter the second invitation – to participate in the life of the kingdom that has arrived, that is in our midst! Being a disciple, or discipleship, depends therefore, on both believing that God’s Kingdom is among us and participating living - as though this is true. Put another way, orthodoxy (believing rightly) is not enough. Orthopraxy (living rightly) is also needed in order to be a disciple of Jesus. For much of our history these two have often been separated. Our fear is that this separation continues within our current understanding of Christianity and discipleship. Thus, the theme of this issue. We want to engage the topic of discipleship, asking what this means and what being a disciple of Jesus means in our present context. We hope that this will at the very least stir our thinking as we seek to follow in The Way of Jesus. ///
OBEDIENCE A TREASURED INHERITANCE: REFLECTIONS ON BEING A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST by Danisa Ndlovu
As I reflect on my Christian journey, one inheritance from my church, the Brethren in Christ, that I treasure is the simple teaching to be obedient as a disciple of Christ. It is a teaching that is life-changing, in that it calls for sacrificial commitment and dedication to Christ and his cause. Obedience simply means “submission to authority.” It requires a willingness to carry
out that authority’s instructions. This is how the early Anabaptists understood Christian discipleship. Run through the pages of history of the early Anabaptists – furnish yourself with the stories of the sacrifices they made – and you will not fail to appreciate that their underlying motivation was to be obedient and faithful to Christ, to the church and to the scriptures as they understood them. Confessing and embracing Christ as Lord is a call to view Him as the highest authority in our lives. Therefore, whatever he says must be carefully and painstakingly followed by his disciples. In that spirit, the early Anabaptists took the words of Christ – especially the Sermon on the Mount – seriously, as failure to do so could result in “a great crash,” as indicated in the last verses of Jesus’ sermon (Matthew 7: 24 – 27). So what does it mean to practice Christian discipleship? Put another way, what is obedience to Christ? Trust that
sometimes leads to suffering The need for obedience is fundamentally the need to trust in God and God’s son, Jesus Christ. Failure to put one’s trust in God potentially leads to idolatry. It displeases God. Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are dotted with stories that emphasize the need and importance of obedience to God and to His Word. Amazingly, obedience to God – although commended and blessed – does not necessarily lead to a life of bliss. Indeed, for many Christians around the world now and in the past, it often leads to suffering. The early Anabaptists found in this truth their source of strength, and persevered. These disciples, due to their obedience to God, suffered at the hands of those who were opposed to God’s will. In the midst of their suffering they found encouragement in the biblical stories of people like Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Shadrack, Meshack and Abednigo – and especially in the life and teachings of Christ. Our forbearers would have shouted “amen!” to the words of American pastor and writer Chuck Swindoll, who once wrote, “When you suffer and lose, that does not mean you are being disobedient to God. In fact, it might mean you’re right in the centre of His will. The path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.” To lead a life of obedience is a choice that one makes. God does not coerce us to obey him. We willingly obey God in all circumstances, knowing that God always knows what is best for us and what best can be accomplished through us as we journey together through life’s trials and triumphs. In
the words of missionary Elisabeth Elliot, “God is God. Because he is God, he is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in his holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” It is in this lifestyle of trust in God that one can confidently sing with the faithful: “Where he leads me I will follow / I go with Him all the way.” As disciples of Christ, we must understand that suffering is unavoidable. And though we should not blindly embrace it, it is nevertheless a mark of true discipleship – of our trust in God. Reliance on God in poverty and plenty The call for obedience in the church has always been understood as a call for faithfulness to the scriptures. For this reason, Anabaptists view the Sermon on the Mount as a normative guide to conducting their lives in relation to God, one another, their enemies and earthly institutions such as the state. Consider the lives of the early Anabaptists. The majority were poor, and some were forced into pover ty as a result of persecution that came upon them because of their faith in Christ and understanding of the scriptures. It is not surprising that these believers were drawn to passages such as Matthew 6: 25-34, which calls for reliance on God for provisions of life. Day-to-day survival was indeed in God’s hands. For them, God was indeed all in all. Such passages have the same draw for our
communities today that experience situations of oppression, conflict or injustice. For those brothers and sisters around the world whose daily bread is the uncertainty of life, obedience to such words as Christ spoke in this passage is not an option – it is a mark of faithfulness, a necessity for perseverance. On the other hand, those privileged to assist the needy in obedience to the scriptures are challenged to give in ways that will not make their “left hand know what their right hand is doing”; they are thus rewarded by the Father who sees in secret (Matthew 6:1-4). Obedience in this respect means faithfulness to words of Christ in addressing questions that are ethical in nature. It means constantly checking our motivation for the decisions we make and the resultant actions we take, so that we can say with Paul: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3: 17). Living in truth without need for oaths True disciples of Christ live in truth and by the Truth. There is never an excuse for living a wishy-washy life. Truth must be the signature of their being. Early Anabaptists modeled this kind of truthful living. For instance, these believers refrained from swearing oaths. In that time, swearing oaths was perceived as an admission that there were times when one’s “yes” was not a “yes” and one’s “no” not a “no” (Matthew 5:33-37). Shouldn’t true Christians live lives of truthfulness all the
time – not just when speaking to government officials or doing business? Obedience to Christ in this respect – in a world which glorified taking oaths – meant refusal to engage in such acts and living up to the consequences that followed. The path of obedience to Christ is infested with practices that are diverse – some national and others cultural, some which may appear innocent yet are cancerous to one’s faith. As Christians, we should never be naïve and fail to carefully study our contexts together, in the light of the scriptures, letting go of practices that inhibit us from living the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no”! Our obedience to Christ must be seen in how we address ourselves to both ethical and moral questions of our time. A spirit of love and humility, not fear One cannot talk of Christian obedience without looking at Christ as our model. Jesus, when expressing his obedience to God the Father, said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and finish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus subjected himself to the authority of God the Father because he loved him. In the priestly prayer in John 17:20-26, we get many glimpses of the intimate relationship between Jesus and God. Phrases like “Father, just as you are in me and I in you” and “as we are one,” give us great insight into the relationship between the two. A concluding remark – “I know you, and they know you sent me, I have made you
known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them” – shows how that intimacy manifest itself in Jesus’ earthly ministry. The point I want to make here is that Jesus had an intimate relationship with God the Father and that the love between the two was intense. Most significantly for our discussion of obedience, we note that Jesus obeyed God out of love rather than out of fear and coercion. We, in turn, obey Christ out of love – the same intense love we have for him, as articulated for us in this powerful prayer. Jesus was willing to go all the way and pay the ultimate prize – death on the cross – because he knew God and unconditionally loved him. The church of Jesus Christ today can only stand out by reflecting the glory of Christ as it gives unqualified submission and love for Him. The life of obedience as demonstrated by Christ not only flows out of a loving heart but also calls us to embrace a very important virtue – humility. The New Testament hymn in Philippians 2:5-11 enables us to see how humility relates to true obedience. There was on the part of Christ a willingness to shed off his God-nature for the less glamorous human/servant nature. He willingly submitted his authority to that of God. Christ willingly listened to that higher authority in order to effectively carry out the mission for which he had come. He was willing to lose that which in the present would be viewed as valuable and important, in order to gain what was not yet seen – but of greater cosmic importance. Therefore, obedience as exemplified by Christ – to put it in romantic terms – is where love and humility kiss! Genuine
obedience as taught by the church is the willingness for one to submit to the Lordship of Christ and out of love for him and in humble submission to him be willing to do whatsoever the Lord has commanded us to do. Loving and praying for enemies Jesus was not apologetic when he said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Therefore, we need to take seriously one of the important – yet sometimes difficult – commands given to every true follower of Christ: “You have heard that it it is said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . . . If you love those who love you what reward will you get? . . . And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?” (Matthew 5:43-44, 46, 47) These verses are intimidating, but very profound. Today’s church cannot afford to read such scriptures without engaging in some soul-searching; the church of yesteryears did the same. It is no wonder, therefore, that our theology of nonviolence as Anabaptists is based on such passages. One cannot obey Jesus’ command to love one’s enemy and then by the same token go out and take the so-called enemy’s life. Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners [his enemies!] Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In other words, God loved his enemies – us – such that instead of annihilating us, he gave us life through Christ! Obedience to Christ means we must love those who persecute us
and, like God, wish them life instead of death. We are commanded to pray for those who persecute us. Many Christians believe in the power of prayer. Many are able to say without much thought: “Prayer changes things.” Many times Christians are not willing or are reluctant to pray for their enemies. Let me propose a few reasons why this is true. First, they know that prayer changes things. They are afraid that God will show mercy to their enemy. They would rather see their enemy suffer or die! Second, they do not want God to open their enemy’s eyes to the truth and thus accept God’s salvation. They do not want to share with their enemy the glorious inheritance of God’s kingdom.
qualify to be “invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Conclusion This is the teaching I call my inheritance. It is my treasure, and I seek to pass it on to the next generation so that they might do the same. The world is better served with an obedient church – disciples of Christ committed to surrender all to him in order to gain all from him. Such is our church when it realizes it has all the resources it needs to be an effective transformative force in today’s world.
When we pray for our enemies, God usually and certainly deals with the negative attitudes that we hold against our enemies. These attitudes cultivate and nurse the spirit of revenge. Therefore, harboring them derives from a rebellious spirit that says, “God, leave me alone! I will deal with my problems my way.” It should not surprise us that Christ, at the conclusion of his teaching on prayer (Matthew 6:5-13), makes a strong statement about forgiveness: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). This teaching goes hand in hand with the teaching on loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors. Those who love and follow God through Christ will love their enemies to the bitter end – even when it is at the cost of their very lives. They will pray for them with anticipation of seeing them accept the Christ as Lord and Savior. In so doing, they will
Danisa Ndlovu is president of Mennonite World Conference and bishop of Ibandia Labazalwane kuKristu eZimbabwe (Brethren in Christ Church of Zimbabwe).
ed cat i upl red not is y nit tia ris Ch if s. wer o l fol but s, sor fes pro t oin app Christ did not for y, nit tia ris Ch d oun exp not s doe he n the it, g din oun exp son per in the life of the zed i l rea ng bei by d de oun exp be y onl can and g vin i l ut abo ge Christianity is a messa in the lives of men. - Soren Kierkegaard
BETWEEN FENCING AND FOLLOWING: ORTHODOXY AND ORTHOPRAXY by. Corbus van Wyngaard
I find myself using the words orthodoxy and orthopraxy in different ways. Orthodoxy calls up mental pictures of fences and gates – we need to get the formulations right in order to be able to test who is on the inside and who is on the outside. Orthopraxy calls up mental pictures of a goal to be worked towards – we need to strive towards becoming more Christlike, a journey we share with at least all Christians. I suspect I’m not alone in these interpretations, and these personal interpretations is what guides this reflection. But we should be able to turn these mental pictures around as well, and we might easily recognize places in the churches where this does happen. Orthodoxy would then refer to the endless search for the mysterious God whom we will never quite pin down with our words, yet whom we cannot not speak off. Orthopraxy would refer to the many attempts at listing actions which would disqualify you from membership in the Christian community. Seen in this way, I have seen many who have taken the “right actions” far too seriously, just as I’ve seen many who have taken the “right belief” too seriously. But such a serious belief seems to reflect a taking-tooseriously of oneself, regardless of whether we focus on actions of faith, on what we do
or what we confess. The search for purity, for fencing off those who are not orthos, not straight, or right, or correct, from whoever I believe myself part of, seems to reflect a far too serious reading of myself. What we need in the church today may not be the many attempts at finding balances or dances between religious faith and ethical actions, between articulating belief in God and following Christ. What we need to finally be clear on is whether the orthos we are proclaiming is a fence or a following. Then, when on the same beat, the dance can find some rhythm. It might not be appropriate to argue this point in one paragraph, but let me state it bluntly nevertheless: the fence does not work. While the images of sheep and goats might have provided the imagination formed by modern farming with easy pictures of camps strictly divided, and while even scripture might create the impression that it is indeed clear who gave something to drink to the One who was thirsty, the fences only work when Christianity remains in control. Not only does the fence not work because Christianity has lost control (though I think Christianity may have retained far more control over people’s lives than we often think), but the very control through which fences become threats creates a situation where the enforcement of the orthos reveals something deeply un-or thos (whether orthodox or orthopraxy) – taking away the call to discipleship. A far more appropriate metaphor is that of the following. The sheep are not fenced, but follow the voice of the shepherd. The disciples are not coerced, but respond to the call of the rabbi. Along the way they may find others who are walking the same road. It may even be somewhat unclear whether they are also following the One who made
the call, or whether they have joined us for a while by accident. The ‘fences’ may thus indeed become somewhat unclear if we emphasize ‘following.’ Associating the idea of ‘following’ with orthopraxis might be more common than associating it with orthodoxy. But there is no reason why orthopraxy, religious belief, even the right doctrine, cannot be considered part of a kind of following: the lifelong attempt at speaking about the unspeakable. Following the One whom we call God and finding words for the One whom we are following words such as ‘God.’ My point is really simple: there is no dance as long as or thodoxy is ‘fencing’ and orthopraxy is ‘following’ – and fencing really isn’t the way of following Christ. We are the people of the Way, and it is the way of living our lives and finding words which accompanies the lives we are living. Or, if you must, it might be the way of finding words for our faith and living lives which accompany those words. But the dance is made possible when we recognize that the orthos, the rightness, is not found in the fences which demarcate insiders from outsiders. On the contrary, these might well remain quite vague. Rather, the orthos of a following should rightly refer to the One whom we are following.
Cobus van Wyngaard is a research assistant in the Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology at UNISA and an ordained minister of the Dutch Reformed congregation Pretoria.
REDEFINING FAITH by. Andrew Suderman
Lately I have been spending a lot of time reading the book of James. Reading this small yet powerful book has challenged me to think and re-think the very nature and meaning of faith. I have found it interesting to listen to people speak about faith. Often faith is used to describe what a person believes and does not believe. For example we might say that we believe in God, Jesus, Allah, Mohammed, Torah, the Bible, the Quran, and so forth. What a person says they believe in is equated to their faith. Faith in God means that he or she believes in God. Because I believe in God, I have faith. Faith and belief seem to be synonymous in our usual vernacular. This understanding or definition of faith, however, does not seem synonymous with actions or the way we live. Although ideally we believe that faith should affect the way we act, we still speak about faith and action separately. In other words, faith and living out that faith—action—is differentiated and understood separately. For example, it might be possible to have faith yet not live a life that is based or reflects that faith. It might be possible to have faith in God, even in Jesus, but act in ways that are ungodly – participate in violence and war, kill, be inhumane, lie, cheat, be corrupt, and so forth. Although we may act in these ways, and participate in actions that are less than holy, the claim remains that we still have faith. We have faith because we believe in something. This understanding is quite common. We hear of the many stories of soldiers at war, and hear about the faith that keeps them
engaged in that battle. We are reminded about this reality in almost every Presidential speech. In Africa it is unfortunately all-toregular to hear about the faith of a particular politician or public official and yet hear of ways in which he or she have been involved in government corruption, state sanctioned violence, and in some cases atrocities of the worst kind. This is the understanding of faith, for example, that depicts Rwanda as being over 90% Christian at the time of the 1994 genocide. These examples demonstrate a separation between faith and the way in which we live. In other words, this way of understanding faith does not speak into or affect the way in which we live. The example of Rwanda can be, as Emmanuel Katongole has put it, a mirror to the church and, I would add, a mirror as to how we understanding faith in general. Katongole says, “When we look at Rwanda as a mirror to the church, it helps us realize what little consequence the biblical story has on the way Christians live their lives in the West” (Mirror to the Church, 85). Put another way, although we “believe” in the Bible, in Jesus, in God, and so forth, it does little to the way in which we live our lives. Like one Facebook message that I recently saw puts it, “Faith is like WIFI: it’s invisible, but it has the power to connect you to what you need.” Faith is equated to what we believe, which is differentiated from the way we live. The book of James challenges this understanding of faith. We are reminded, for example, of the well-known verse in James that says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17), and again, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). The book of James reminds us about the interconnectivity between faith and works; the one requiring
the other; an interconnectivity that is difficult to embrace, even leading Martin Luther, for example, to describe James as the epistle of straw! Lately, however, I have been wrestling with this interconnectivity found in James between faith and works. Often, I suspect, these verses and this book continue to be read with the assumption that faith and works are two separate and distinct things; things that should be together, but two things nonetheless. Even groups like Sojourners who have a strong and admirable social conscience and encourage social action, describe their work as “Faith in Action for Social Justice.” Although they do well in bringing the two together, faith and action are still referred to as two distinct things – “faith in action.” In other words, it seems that the reverse is also possible—to have faith that is not in action.
humanism. Likewise, belief without action is not faith; it is superstition. In order to have faith, belief and action are both required. This, I think, is a substantial challenge to our current understanding and definition of faith. This is a challenge that does not allow us the comfort of believing in something and not putting it into practice. This is not faith. James, I think, provides us with a different definition – faith without works is dead. In other words, faith without works is not, in fact, faith!
I have begun to wonder whether this is, in fact, what the writer of James intended. I wonder whether James was reminding people to bring these two pieces of the puzzle together, or whether the one piece— faith—is in fact indistinguishable without works? Let me explain the nuance. We often assume and speak as if faith = belief. If this leads to action, that is wonderful. Yet we still assume it is possible to speak about faith even if there is no action. I wonder, however, if James is actually describing faith as that which requires both belief and action. In other words, faith = belief + action. The two, belief and action, are required elements in order to have faith. If one piece of the equation is not present then what is left is not faith. For example, action without belief is not faith; it is
Andrew Suderman is the Coordinator of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa. Andrew is married to Karen and has two small children, Samantha and James.
p a e h C . s e v l e s r u o n o w o t s e b e w e c a r g e h t s i e c a r g Cheap g n i r i u q e r t u o h t i w s s e n e v i g r o f f o g n i h c a e r p e h t s i grace n o i n u m m o C , e n i l p i c s i d h c r u h c t u o h t i w m s i t p a b , e c n a repent t u o h t i w e c a r g s i e c a r g p a e h C . . . . n o i s s e f n o c t u o h wit t u o h t i w e c a r g , s s o r c e h t t u o h t i w id scipleship, grace . e t a n r a c n i d n a g n i v i l , t s i r h C s u Jes
r e f f e o h n o B h - Dietric
BEING PLACED ENVIRONMENTALLY AS WE FOLLOW JESUS by. Allen Goddard
Mark reports that Jesus was sent by the Holy Spirit into the wildest and most deserted places of Judea or Galilee (1:13, 35). The real challenge but also the real enjoyment of going into wild places, Mark tells us, was a regular pattern in Jesus' life. The landscape of Israel shaped Jesus' soulscape (1:16, 2:13, 3:13 etc.) If we follow Jesus but are increasingly losing touch with wild nature, if we feel uncomfortable about being together or alone in the wilderness, is there a part of Jesus we do not understand very well? What Mark shows us is that Jesus was as much "placed" and rooted in his environmental context as he was situated in a culture, language, and a socio-political place. There was one key difference between then and now. In Jesus' day, wild places and wild animals were regarded as a threat to human society because they really were a threat. Today the opposite is true. Wilderness, and all creatures in creation are threatened with destruction by human society. And so we have to ask ourselves: What does it mean for us to follow Jesus in our context where our civilization, our culture and most of all, our personal economics at household level (as well as the economics we participate in at local, national and international levels), are having such a massive ecological impact that we are threatening the survival of all creatures our Creator made?
The sociologist, Jacklyn Cock, has called this "the war against ourselves" (The War Against Ourselves: Nature, Power and Justice, Wits University Press, 2007). nervous. I was assured that this was quite normal as my mind was now ‘constantly scanning’. I refused to let my mind linger on memories of the event and mentally castigated my assailant by calling him a ‘silly, cheeky fool’ . . . In our world that is increasingly "spaced out", distanced from the mysteries of the environment because more and more of these mysteries are being destroyed, Jesus invites us to "be placed" environmentally as we follow him. This means taking seriously that we are creatures like all other creatures in creation. It means discovering that our shared creatureliness has implications for the way we conduct our economics. Jesus wants us to make and spend money radically differently. Jesus invites us to put back into creation rather than just taking. He wants us to heal, rather than destroy. He wants us to respect ecological mysteries in creation as much as we receive ecological services and goods from creation. Jesus longs for the good news of the Kingdom to be really good news for nature, which is the opposite message for creation that our current socio-economic activities send out the message of maximum profits, unlimited growth, polluted water and air, bulldozed rainforest, exploitative sea harvests and an increasingly carbon saturated atmosphere. How do we rediscover ecological placement in our increasingly "spaced out" culture? Creating a simple garden, growing food, learning the difference between silence and solitude during the course of a busy day, intentionally being less driven into technologies that "space" us out of the real ecological and geographical places we are called to live in, choosing products off the
shelf that do less harm to soil and atmosphere, cutting down our use of fossil fuels – these are simple ways to get back in place, to follow Jesus with his love for nature in mind. Following Jesus environmentally in a world where the destruction of wild nature looks increasingly possible, means that we have to embrace the challenge of transforming our economic lives, to urgently factor in the voiceless creation and the poorest people nearest us in creation. Jesus invites us to do our household economics in the same way that he organized his budget and day to day affairs, with radical simplicity and radical mindfulness of the destitute and wretched of the earth who live beyond the needs of our immediate households. Jesus invites us to participate in our marketplace with the same posture and intention he had himself, as he entered the temple marketplace. To our cost we will discover that truly ‘loving’ economics has no business with the destruction of the earth, and requires the sacrifice of restitution - restoring what has been stolen, repairing what has been broken, and participating in the mystery of creation's capacity for bouncing back through healing. Opposing creation's destruction can begin only if we lower our expectations or ambitions about what we hope to "get" from nature, whose ability to give and give and give some more, is increasingly spent. Only Jesus' transformation of all our bad economic habits of heart and mind will draw us onto a new path, following the real Jesus of Nazareth, who came to bring peace for the whole earth, peace through justice in creation, true peace that will bring an everlasting end to our "war against ourselves" (Col 1:19-20). Allen Goddard is an ANISA pilgrim living in Hilton, KZN.
COMMUNITIES MAKE DISCIPLES by. Arthur Stewart
Because I have people in my life at all stages of faith journeys, I’ve been considering how we relate to one another’s walks. Now that a young man in our church has decided to follow Jesus, who is meant to help him? And that mom who is pretty busy all the time but would love to be a little more intentional about her faith, what about her? And the woman who comes around every now and again that is curious about religion – is she all on her own? Whose responsibility is discipleship? Who is supposed to help me, you, and others to follow Jesus? Some would suggest it is the job of a trained / ordained priest or pastor. Or perhaps you know a “super discipler” who seems to single-handedly walk anyone and everyone close to Christlikeness? Maybe it’s you! Do you think of yourself as responsible for helping everyone become the person they were created to be? The problem in every one of these examples is that they rely on one person to do all the work. Scripture – and history – and logic! – say something different. IT IS THE COMMUNITY OF GOD’S PEOPLE THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING DISCIPLES... WHY? 1. We need communities to make disciples because God does not hold me responsible for your growth. He DOES hold me responsible for bringing to your life what He wants me to bring. God calls us to help one
another, encourage one another, etc. We are actually created to walk with one another in the journey toward forever with God. It could even be that in most cases, people are critical of one another’s salvation. But there is an individual responsibility we all must take on our own discipleship and can’t put on anyone else. 2. We need communities to make disciples because I am limited. I don’t know everything. I can’t do everything. In short, I am not God… and neither are you. I will help you know and follow Jesus, but I can’t and shouldn’t cover everything. There will be times that someone else needs to cry with you or advise you. You will want other people to also pray with you, teach you the Bible, tell you to stop doing that. Because I am limited (we all are!) You and I need lots of people helping us along the way. 3. We need communities to make disciples because the goal is not making you a copy of me. The goal is you becoming the person God has designed you to be in Christ. I guarantee, if I am the only person helping you know Jesus, you will look more like me, or like me following Jesus, than YOU following Jesus. You will pray like me, serve like me, worship like me. Yuck! We need a community helping us be disciples so that we get the best from all, and don’t need to replicate any. Sure, we will model and share how we live. But we share that as an example. 4. We need communities to make disciples because I bring my gifts. You bring your gifts. I bring my experiences. You bring your experiences. We need them all. You want a teacher teaching you. You want a pastor shepherding you. You want an encourager
encouraging you. (That’s what I want anyway.) And I am not all those things. You are not all those things. We get all things in a community of disciples.
community to help. Each of us needs to be asking what God would have us give to whom, and talk about that with one another to serve together.
I hope you can see that in all this, I / you must take my own discipleship seriously. How am I giving God more room in my life? Am I being a disciple myself? And very i m p o r t a n t l y, PA RT O F M Y O W N DISCIPLESHIP IS DISCIPLING OTHERS. Did you know that? Part of being a disciple, part of learning to follow Jesus, is helping others do the same! Too often we think we will be disciples, then reach some magic point when we will disciple others. When does that day arrive? When I know everything? When I’ve done everything? NO! It’s now. We disciple from where we are now. God does not ask us to have all the answers. He asks us to share what we do know and He will do the rest. If you think back to people who have helped you along the Way, I suspect they were memorable because they were prayerful and faithful lovers of God. And we’ve all had many people help.
I’ll save “what does a community making disciples together look like?” for another post. I think that it can actually differ dramatically depending on time, place, and situation. But, the question I want to leave you with is: how do you see your community making disciples? What has been your experience? What has been your participation?
We need all of us to be living this way because of the points above. You see, in saying that a community is best suited to make disciples, it does not absolve me of responsibility. I cannot therefore count on “the community / church” doing it. Why? Because there is no community without me (us) participating. Yes, we play different roles. But we ALL play roles. It is NOT the role of leadership to make disciples. It is the role of a leader to help US make disciples – setting the environment, connecting the right people, providing opportunities. I do believe we all are gifted in different ways and each of us will play different parts in the spiritual lives of one another. That’s OK – we have a
Arthur Stewart is an ANiSA pilgrim living in Cape Town, South Africa. Used by permission: http://differentchurch.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/ communities-make-disciples/
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DISCIPLESHIP AS EMBODIED IMAGINATION by Tom Smith
In 1994, Anabaptist missiologist Alan Kreider gave a challenging lecture wherein he focused on the essential nature of discipleship during the first three centuries of the church. The title of the lecture was, “Worship and evangelism in pre-Christendom.”1 According to Kreider two of the main characteristics during the early church’s discipleship process (called catechism) were the ‘re-reflexing of folkways’ and ‘the teaching of history.’ These two elements of a catechism can be placed under the rubrics of orthodoxy (history) and orthopraxis (folkways). Kreider describes the purpose of this catechism,
prior question: ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?2’ That is why it is important to ask which story we are living in. Our narratives form social imaginations which, in turn, becomes habituated in our practices or what Kreider calls folkways. I use this term rather than 'ethics' or 'morality' because it has to do with the ways of a people which are often assumed rather than consciously thought out; they are habitual, even reflexive. The pagans undergoing catechism needed to be rehabituated so that they would react to situations of tension and difficulty in a distinctive way, not like pagans, 'but like members of a Christian community, and ideally like Jesus. At the heart of the imparting of folkways, as Origen pointed out, was imitation: hence the importance of the life example on the part of catechists and sponsors alike.
This, I believe, was to re-form pagan people, to resocialise them, to deconstruct their old world, and reconstruct a new one, so that they would emerge as Christian people, at home in communities of freedom. And to help the catechumen’s progress on this journey, the catechists needed especially to instruct them in two areas essential to the life of any community: history and folkways.
Orthopraxis and orthodoxy are deeply inter twined. The social imagination (folkways) of a group becomes engrained in bodies and develops towards automation. These practices or patterns influence a society in pre-cognitive ways and have huge political implications. Part of the church’s challenge is to develop a fuller anthropology of people rather than just “brains on a sticks” (orthodoxy) and to evaluate the orthopraxis of a community.
Our lives follow the scripts of the different stories of our communities and discipleship tracks the contours of the stories we tell and become the ways in which we inhabit these stories. Or as Alisdair MacIntyre so beautifully stated, “I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the
When we consider discipleship in South Africa, the reconfiguration of stories is crucial. One of the challenges of discipleship in South Africa is to swap the other-worldly “I-just-want-to-go-to-heaven” focus of the apartheid salvation story (soteriology) for the story of salvation as “may-your-kingdomcome-on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven.” Finding
new heroes and story tellers may help with this process. During the past decade, I have re a l i z e d h o w my o w n d i s c i p l e s h i p imagination has been shaped by northEuropean and American “heroes” like Warren, Hybels and McLaren. A new world opened for me as I engaged with Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, Emmanuel Katongole or the provocative essays of Steve Biko. The works of Beyers Naudé and Nico Smith helped me to reconfigure my social imagination by inhabiting a different story and by re-reflexing folkways.
is the lifelong process of discipleship and reflecting on our stories and folkways might be a good start. In James KA Smith’s brilliant book ‘Desiring the Kingdom,’3 the author invites his readers to do a practices audit. I think this might be a good way to reflect on orthodoxy and praxis,
In the absence of stories rooted in the South African context I can easily construct an apolitical discipleship paradigm that serves the status quo of neo-colonial empires and therefore become part of the oppressive paradigm of ingrained and invisible forms of neo-oppression.
+ What does your time look like? What practices are you regularly immersed in each week? How much time is spent doing different sorts of activities?
On the importance of reflecting on the interweaving of orthodoxy and orthopraxis, the apostle Paul notes: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walkingaround life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1–2,The Message) We live as disciples with our bodies and our minds. The invitation is therefore to learn what it means to follow Jesus with both. This
+ What are some of the most significant habits and practices that really shape your actions and attitude... what you think and what you do?
+ What do you think are the most important ritual forces in your life? And if you were honest with yourself, are these positive (forming you into the kind of person who embodies the kingdom of God) or negative (forming you into someone whose values and desires are antithetical to that kingdom, oriented toward another kingdom)? + What do you think are some of the most potent practices in our culture? Or, if you have kids, what are the cultural forces that you don’t want your children shaped by? What are the ritual forces that you do want to shape their desires? And why on both counts? Tom Smith is married to Lollie and they have the privilege of parenting Tayla and Liam. They live in Johannesburg. Tom is the co-founder of Rhythm of Life, an organization that helps churches to develop a missional spirituality.
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DISCIPLESHIP AS TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
framework. Rather than churches being Sunday events (or services) with discipleship ‘built’ around them, a paradigm shift is needed whereby churches see themselves as ‘centers’ of discipleship, training and forming people to be like Jesus so that they can be on mission with God to the glory of God, and be part of God’s rescue plan.
The question of discipleship, in my view, can never be discussed without finding an essential basis for it. The dangers of not contextualising it are many, and include making discipleship about moral conservatism or even, in some cases, moral liberalism and an over concession to the surrounding culture. In this sense, therefore, discipleship must be established in its missional context and its essential place at the centre of God’s heart.
It is important to highlight, I think, that biblical witness and justice in this framework will be seen as two sides of the same coin, in the sense that both are rooted in the character of God and in the justice and victory of God through Jesus.
by Sindile “Magic” Vabaza
In order to understand discipleship we must have a fuller and more emphatic view of sin, namely that we do not over-personalize it as the modern church is prone to do, thus taking away the very real perception of sin as something utterly monstrous and insidious. In my understanding, sin can be seen through the prism of the three generally accepted atonement theories and so, if we accept this, we can see sin as a vile virus that has infected us as humans and darkened our minds to the light of God’s glory and character. Sin must also be framed in the larger biblical narrative of the cosmic battle between good and evil. If we accept all this, then Jesus’ life, death and resurrection can be seen not only as God’s fulfillment of Israel’s promised messiah (the one who would establish God’s rule on earth of peace and justice) but who came to rescue or ‘ransom’ the whole creation from sin, death, decay, and entropy. There are, of course, implications for understanding discipleship in this
This shifts our understanding of sin, from it being only a personal thing, to understanding sin systemically, manifested in institutions and ideologies. In our specific South African context, the personal sin of prejudice (racism) on the personal level froze into a system and ideology that claimed racial supremacy for one race over others. Thus, in this context, if we understand God’s victory over the powers (the outlay of the gospel) and bring a theology of the kingdom of God from the periphery, then doing things such as paying people a livable wage (whatever that may be) becomes a prophetic demonstration of God’s goodness, while also unveiling the injustice of society. In this sense, this is a continuation of the Old testament where God used human agents to judge the world - and now the church when it does good and pursues justice in the context of the fullness of God’s good news through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This ‘witness’ to a watching world shows people that God is indeed just, and because he is just he is therefore good and trustworthy and people can put their trust
and faith in Him. Witness and justice, then, are woven together in the very heart of the gospel. Christian action and proclamation must be rooted in the being and character, therefore justice and victory, of God through Jesus. The real implications for discipleship in this context means that forming Christian or Godly character is essential to Christian witness and goes back to the earlier point of churches being ‘centers’ of training in the ways of Jesus. This understanding of discipleship also fits better with the Bible’s self-understanding of being a ‘trainer’ in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This neatly interweaves our understanding of orthodoxy and orthopraxy and in the long run eliminates, in my view, the very unbiblical dichotomy of works and grace that is propagated by a lot of the modern church, owing to some reformed bending of the biblical narrative. This then begs the pragmatic question of how exactly those in the ministry can help train and disciple the flock in the way of Jesus, so that they can be on mission with Jesus proclaiming and living the gospel message in a holistic and attractive manner? I cannot answer that in any definitive way but it does seem to me that proper and deep understanding of the Scriptures, especially of God’s character and the gospel, the use of spiritual disciplines, the care and mentoring of the elders and other spiritual ‘directors’ within each congregation and most importantly of course the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit. In conclusion, discipleship can really be summed up as becoming like Jesus in order to do what Jesus did in the world, all to the glory of God.
Sindile Vabaza is as an entrepreneur, reader, sports aficionado and part time writer, living in Northcliff Johannesburg.
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DISCIPLESHIP: LEVELS OF UNDERSTANDING by Roger Saner
The understanding of "discipleship" with which I grew up is something along the lines of â€˜apprenticing yourself to Jesus,â€™ which had the corresponding understanding that this is achieved through Christian means, i.e. reading the Bible, doing theological reflection, praying, committing to belonging to a Christian community, etc. All of this draws upon the specific Christian heritage which one is part of, and so re-creates a new generation of disciples - albeit in a new key. But if we take a step back and reflect upon this process, what level of thinking is being created? F i r s t , we w a n t t o h ave a h e a l t hy egocentricity, which gives us the strength to be ourselves, and necessary boundaries between ourselves and others. Second, we want to identify with a par ticular community, which is the ethnocentric level. At this level, belonging to a group of likeminded people is the focus. A healthy manifestation of this community identity is an outward focus and a realization that there is still room for growth. What levels of growth are there beyond these two levels? If we remain at an ethnocentric level of thinking and being, then the world is a place of conflicting identities at odds with each other: black/white, Christian/atheist, religious/scientist, DA/ ANC, my group identity versus your group identity. This is the mentality a respected pastor friend of mine has which allows him
to continue to post anti-Muslim analyses on Facebook. He does not allow Muslims to make the distinction which he expects others to make of his own faith. This is an issue of a lack of hospitality due to his level of thinking, and needs to be addressed. There are two obvious problems with these kinds of group identity conflicts. First is that many people are able to draw from both sides without having that immediately invalidate the other side. Second is that it is immensely difficult to learn from the truth within another tradition or worldview while staying within your own tradition (already, this presupposes that no one worldview holds all truth, and that truth is discoverable everywhere). What I mean is that an ethnocentric worldview is set up to reinforce all of the ways in which your worldview is good and superior to others, and why all other worldviews (or beliefs, or denominations, or churches) out there are inferior to yours. Could there be other levels of thinking and being which transcend ethnocentricity, while including its healthy parts, and so allow us to have a wider worldview more embracing of all of creation? My approach, in trying to deepen my Christian walk, is to step outside of my ethnocentric Christianity, and what it has (or does) consider as discipleship. Our increasingly complex world invites us to draw from broader areas so that we can creatively respond to new questions which those who have gone before us never had to deal with. An example that might help is the way our thinking has changed or shifted in how we understand things such as an atom.
Roger Saner is an open source web developer living in Cape Town. He is currently studying a Masters in Interaction Design and hopes to one day work at Valve Corporation.
I was taught that an atom orbited the nucleus in a similar way that planets orbit the sun. The truth is, they don’t – this is just a simplistic model to give an idea of what is going on. The reality is that the ‘orbits’ show where an electron is most likely to be at any given time, but there is no smooth progression along an orbit from one position to the next. This demonstrates, I think, that discipleship is about learning, and this should not be restricted to what is inside of the Christian tradition. Here is a list of some examples that has broadened my worldview: + The Feynman Lectures on Physics (Nobel Prize-winning quantum physicist Richard Feynman gives an undergraduate course on physics based on 2 conditions: that it is recorded, and he will only do it once ) + literary criticism (Paul Fry from Yale University uses the children’s book Tony the Tow Truck to show how different literary approaches work ) + Chaos Theory (the book by James Gleick is fantastically absorbing, and documents the making of a new science with implicit reference to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; highly recommended for anyone identifying with a new movement) + Emotional Intelligence (the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 includes an online EQ survey and practical steps for engaging your own
neuroplasticity to grow your emotional intelligence in 4 areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management) + Systems Thinking, positive psychology and the 'flow' state, gender theory and neurosexism, The Racial Contract, wicked problems and their solutions through Interaction Design, and others. + To take care of my body I’ve started acro yoga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and am (slowly) continuing my contemplative prayer journey. These are wildly different areas, most of which were never mentioned during my formal Christian studies or any church-based discipleship process in which I’ve been engaged, which is perhaps why so many people leave their faith when they go to university and do a Philosophy or Biology course. The kind of thinking modeled by their Christian communities was insufficient to respond to difficult challenges given by the real world. The model I use to situate all of these different areas is the Integral Model, which shows how every area of study is related and how worldviews unfold, amongst other things. If Einstein is correct – “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels” – then we need to be intentional about what, and how, we are learning, so that our worldview can become larger. This way we may become more hospitable to ‘the other’, for the good of all humanity. I cannot think of a worthier goal of discipleship.
. . . t s e r t o n n a c t i t a h t e r u t a n a h c u s s o s i h t i a f l a c i l e g n a e r a "True ev o h w l a s t r o f m o c d n a s d i a t i ; e t u t i ti shelters the destit ; m r a h t i o d o h w e s o h t o t d o o g s e o d ; t i e t u c ed pressed of heart; it e s r e p o h w e s o h t r o f s y a r p t i ; t i g n o r w o h w e s o h t s e e serv h t f o d r o W e h t h t i w s u s e g d u j d n a , ; d e d n u o w ti teaches, admonishes s i t a h w p u s d n i b t i ; t s o l e r a o h w e s o h t s k e e s t i e ; m o c e b Lord s a h t i ; g n o r t s s i h c i h w t a h t s e v a s t i ; k c i s e h t s l a e it h " . e l p o e p l a o t s g al thin ons
- Menno Sim
DISCIPLESHIP: LESSONS FROM THE ROAD by Johan vd Merwe
A friend of mine - a traveling musician spent the night at my house on Thursday evening. On Friday morning he received news that his friend, the other member of their two-piece band, had run into some car troubles and that their car would be out of action for a couple of days. Usually this news would not cause a great big stir in their ‘go-with-the-flow’ hippie souls: under normal circumstances if the car breaks down then the universe, or whatever, is simply telling them to stop and smell the roses for a while. The trouble was that they had some gigs lined up for the weekend, and they needed the money. It turns out that even hippies have to eat and pay rent. Because I take the words of Jesus seriously, I decided to go the extra mile (or extra 1000 miles as it turned out) and offered to drive transport them for the weekend. I was asked to write this article on the ‘dance of orthodoxy and orthopraxy’ that same morning, and as such I carried the idea with me into the car and onto the road. What follows are some of the thoughts that found root within me as I meditated upon the current theme. I guess an often overlooked truth of Christian discipleship is the fact that we need to be willing to be interrupted if we are to allow the work of God to have its way within us. Take the parable of the Good Samaritan, for instance. Both the priest and the Levite were apparently either too busy or too disgusted to have compassion on the
man who 'fell among thieves.' Is it possible that these holy men where dutifully busy practicing their faith and were simply too preoccupied to help the wounded man? Maybe they were late for their prayers, or maybe they had urgent 'kingdom business' to attend to. Being compassionate can be such an unglamorous inconvenience at times! I think there's a lesson in it for all of us: let us not become so busy and distracted with our well defined expressions of orthopraxy attending church, having devotions, being involved in peacemaking projects, or whatever else - that we miss the manifold opportunities for compassion that stare us right in the face whenever we look into the eyes of our neighbor. On the road with my hippie-musician friends it soon became apparent what my role would be for the next few days: designated sober driver, occasional professional photographer and constant moral compass. Generally speaking, I am not a bellyacher. Neither am I one to make up other people's minds for them regarding their beliefs and conduct. That being said, both of the band members identify themselves as 'Christ followers.' As such, I explored this idea with them in the light of their confession and identification on the one hand, and their ‘rock-and-roll’ attitude toward life on the other hand. I found it both comical and enlightening that they could identify themselves as Christians - 'but not like those religious folks' - on the one hand, while constantly smoking pot, getting drunk and planning womanizing conquests on the other. It was the first letter to the Corinthian church all over again. A particular conversation with one of my friends, which happened on the road somewhere between Lydenburg and Lephalale , touched on the issue of discipleship to Christ in greater depth.
Because he identifies himself as a follower of Christ, and because he initiated the conversation with me, I felt no need to beat around the bush. 'What's the most repeated thing that Jesus said to people?' I asked my friend, during this particular exchange. 'I don't know. Something about love I guess, or about believing in Him as God,' my friend answered. Important as these things are, I explained to my friend, the most often repeated phrase of the canonical Jesus directed to people is not the invitation to believe in Him or to accept certain truths about Him, but to follow Him to enter into His life and His mission. 'As this is slightly difficult, seeing that Jesus isn't walking the dust and dirt of this earth any longer, we need to understand this in a postresurrection context,' I continued. Without dropping the names of Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer and Dallas Willard, I helped him see that 'following Christ' means exactly that. To identify oneself as a follower of God in the way of Christ is to enter into the existential experience whereby we order our lives to become sensitive and responsive toward the actual involvement of God within our lives. This has nothing to do with religion, as my friends can rightly see, but it has just as little to do with license and lawlessness. Discipleship is costly: it requires us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Christ. When Christ said it was impossible to follow Him in any other way He wasn't being facetious or spiteful, He was simply stating a plain fact: if you want to follow Me, you can no longer follow your own way. Discipleship without the cross is an oxymoron. My friend listened closely and attentively as I shared with him what following Christ
means for me personally, and what following Christ have meant for others. I remember quoting C.S. Lewis to him: â€œIt may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.â€?1 I was trying to make him see that the kind of Christianity that professes to follow Christ while ignoring discipleship is like a bird who tries to fly while still trapped inside an egg. Discipleship is what gives Christianity wings and, like anything else within the paradoxical way of Christ, that those wings can only grow and thrive if we are willing to die to our own attempts to lift ourselves into the air. I could see the positive impact my words were having on my friend. Seeing that he is not a typical church goer, I could avoid all the necessary lingo and jargon that is sometimes associated with the subject. This was not a time for sub-cultured words and hard-tograsp concepts. Without using the words orthodoxy or orthopraxy, I offered him a simple explanation of what it means to be an orthodox believer seeking to give expression to his faith in a practical way, and it is this same straightforward elucidation I offer to you, my reader. The invitation to follow Christ in a post resurrection is simply this: Learn to recognize the involvement of God within your life, and then find the courage to act accordingly. Embrace the cost involved in garnering the sensitivity to become attentive to His work within your life - which usually boils down to accepting the obscurity that comes from silence and solitude and becoming 'an individual' in the Kierkegaardian sense of the word - and pray for the courage to say yes to this Divine
involvement, wherever it may take you and whatever it will make of you. After all, ours is the decision to follow Christ, but it is not up to us to choose the path along which He decides to lead us. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught us, many moons ago: ‘When a man really gives up trying to make something out of himself – a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman (a so-called clerical somebody), a righteous or unrighteous man, … when in the fullness of tasks, questions, success or ill-hap, experiences and perplexities, a man throws himself into the arms of God … then he wakes with Christ in Gethsemane. That is faith, that is metanoia and it is thus that he becomes a man and a Christian.’2 May you give up. May you wake up. This is the heart of Christian discipleship.
Johan van der Merwe has written two books, A is for Zebra: Exploring the Art of Soul Writing and Thinking Naughty Thoughts: On church and why I think we need to change. Both books are available for free as ebooks from his website www.johanvdm.co.za, or can be purchased at cost price via Amazon.com.
r o y r a n i d r o a r t x e g n i o d n a e m t ' n s e o d w o h Love g n i w o n k s n a e m t i . . . s g n i h t . s s e n r heroic e d n e t h t i w s g n i h t y r a n i d to do or - Jean Vanier
PUSH IT FURTHER ///
AVAILABLE TITLES FROM THE ANiSA BOOK SHOP POST-CHRISTENDOM: CHURCH AND MISSION IN A STRANGE NEW WORLD by: Stuart Murray The end of Christendom, where the Christian story was known and the church was central, invites Christians in western culture to embrace marginality and discover fresh ways of being church and engaging in mission. Whilst the transition from modernity to postmodernity has received a huge amount of attention, the shift from Christendom to post-Christendom has not yet been fully explored. This book is an introduction, a journey into the past, an interpretation of the present and an invitation to ask what following Jesus might mean in the strange new world of post-Christendom. COST: R140
MORE-WITH-LESS (UPDATED EDITION) by: Doris Janzen Longacre For more than 35 years, More-with-Less Cookbook has helped thousands of families establish a climate of joy and concern for others at mealtime, while improving nutrition and saving money. This cookbook contains recipes and suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the worldâ€™s limited food resources. COST: R120
THE JOURNEY TOWARD RECONCILIATION by: John Paul Lederach We live in a diverse, but interdependent world. Even with modern technology, communications, and travel, we still need to build relationships leading to reconciliation. John Paul Lederach shares insights gained from years of work in international mediation and deep spiritual reflection on the task of reconciliation. From personal experiences and the Bible story, he finds God seeking reconciliation throughout history. Here is help for conflicted families, communities, and nations. COST: R90
THE UPSIDE - DOWN KINGDOM by: Donald B. Kraybill Translated into six languages, and with over 100,000 copies sold, The UpsideDown Kingdom continues to change people's lives. Donald B. Kraybill shows how the kingdom of God announced by Jesus appeared upside-down in firstcentury Palestine. Jesus wins by serving and triumphs by losing. Today, God's way still looks upside-down as it breaks into diverse cultures around the world. COST: R110
DISCIPLESHIP AS POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY by: John Howard Yoder In this work Yoder succeeds in reopening the theological debate on Christians and political responsibility with the larger church to which persecution had put an end 400 years earlier. Biblical scholar Timothy J. Geddert translated two of these lectures, originally given in Germany, as a resource to understand Yoder's invitation to begin an exploratory journey that leads to Jesus Christ's peace church. COST: R50
LIVING MORE WITH LESS by: Doris JanzenÂ Longacre, ed by:ValerieÂ Weaver-Zercher Living More with Less: 30th Anniversary Edition collects the wisdom and experience of those who live with less than a consumer culture says we need. With stories, reflections, and advice from people around the world who are making changes to their daily habits in response to climate change and global poverty, Living More with Less 30th Anniversary Edition is a vibrant collection of testimonies, old and new, of those who are discovering the joy of living with enough. COST: R90
LOVING ENEMIES: A MANUAL FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE by: Randy and Joyce Klassen Like parents and grandparents everywhere, Randy and Joyce Klassen are deeply concerned about the state of the world in which their children and grandchildren will be living. Will violence and wars escalate? Or will the world’s peoples, including those in a United States so often involved in war, try a different way? Will even ordinary people commit ourselves to selfless love? Will we strengthen and expand the reality of justice and peace in our world? This book is a manual for those of us ready to try. COST: R80
JESUS MATTERS: GOOD NEWS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY by: James R. Kraybill and David W. Shenk Jesus Christ is popular with many North Americans, but do they honor the Jesus of Scripture? Each author in this collection teams with one or more young adults to consider the various ways we encounter and experience Jesus. Topics include Jesus and creation, Jesus and the cross, Jesus and salvation, Jesus and mission, and Jesus and the future. Authors include Stanley Green, Michele Hershberger, Mark Thiessen Nation, Willard Swartley, Jack Suderman and April Yamasaki. Foreword by Shane Claiborne. COST: R100
THE NAKED ANABAPTIST by: Stuart Murray Anabaptist Christians have been around for almost 500 years. Writing from Great Britain, Stuart Murray peels back the layers to reveal the core components of Anabaptism—and what they mean for faith in his context and ours. It’s a way of following Jesus that challenges, disturbs, and inspires us, summoning us to wholehearted discipleship and worship. Read this book, and catch a vision for living a life of radical faith! COST: R100
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