Discernment of the Way
A disciple necessarily follows someone… or perhaps something.
There are all kinds of disciples, to all kinds of people, ideas, and yes… things.
One is a disciple by virtue of desiring to follow, and seek to become, the object of discipleship. As children we are disciples, not so much by choice, of our parents. As youth we often become disciples of an admired friend or an “in” group (regardless of how you measure “in” they are “in” to you and you seek to become “in” as well, this is the nature of your discipleship). We can do this in work, in play, at home.
There is a difference between being a disciples and being a servant. Because the master/servant relationship doesn’t imagine that the servant will ever become a master. The disciple imagines such things, hopes for such things, is meant to realize such things. So while the Bible does use master and servant language for our relationship to God. I believe there may be no more important moment than when Jesus calls his disciples friends in John’s Gospel (John 15:15).
Because we are all called by God to discipleship, we are called to follow after Jesus’ way in the world, to be formed by this way, to become this way in our lives, and for other’s lives that they may see in us the way they too are invited to live.
We leave behind the way of our parents (Jesus names this multiple times in scripture) and the other ways we disciple to as we turn towards Jesus. I do not believe this is meant as a lack of respect, and I do not believe it means that we leave behind ALL that it meant to follow in their way.
I do believe it is a calling to critical reflection of our way(s) and how that way(s) lines up to the calling to follow in Christ’s way, the way of grace, forgiveness, and love. The way of healing, feeding, and making whole.
Thus discipleship is an act of discernment – of self-judgment, of separating out that which leads us to life, and that which does not, that which leads others to life and that which does not, and that which does all this living and loving and leading not only with the right purpose but in the right way. This is to say that the ends do not justify the means, we must consistently live the very end we seek: the God who is love.
How are you being called to live into the very image of God this year, and what are you being called to discern, to separate out from your way?