Tuesday, 11 October 2016 15:15

How to be Missionary Disciples

Written by Shane Dwyer

IMAGE How to be a Missionary Disciple 600 X 600 As we strive daily to become missionary disciples, we need some guideposts for us to focus on this goal. Here are three tips:

1. Swim into the deep

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul challenges our tendency to want to live a life of faith while not wanting to take it too seriously.

Perhaps the major crisis among the People of God is one of imagination. We cannot imagine that God wants to work in and through us as he reaches out to everyone we come in contact with. When it comes to living our faith many of us are like people playing around in the shallow end of a swimming pool – content to barely get our feet wet while wondering why it isn’t particularly exciting or engaging. Perhaps we imagine that it is not our place to take our feet off the bottom of that pool and swim into the deep.

The problem is: playing around in the shallow end of the ‘spiritual’ pool is not going to satisfy most adults. We have to go deep – where it is challenging, a little dangerous, but ultimately much more satisfying. If we do not, not only are our spiritual lives in danger of withering up and dying, but we will have very little to say to the world in which we find ourselves. If our commitment and spiritual experience is ‘shallow’ then all we can hope to give people are pious platitudes and simplistic responses to complex questions.

Living in the shallows will not suffice for the missionary disciples of Jesus.

2. Allow God to work through us

It is as we contemplate God’s desire to work through us in our weakness that Paul’s teaching in his letter to the Romans becomes relevant. There he instructs us to give ourselves completely over to God – no excuses (see Romans 12:1-2). Paul says that unless we do this we will not know what God is asking of us, much less be able to do what God is asking of us. The reason is that God works best through those who have learned to place their confidence in God alone. Until that happens we keep getting in the way and God’s word to us becomes distorted.

One of our models is St Francis of Assisi. The great saints of our Church aren’t great because they are perfect in themselves. They are great because they allowed God to work through them.

3. Recognise our inadequacy

Our inadequacy is not the problem we imagine it to be. The grace to recognise that without God’s assistance we cannot even begin to do what God is asking of us is a very important grace indeed. The recognition of inadequacy is in fact the foundation upon which God can begin to work through us. As Paul reminds us (2Cor 4:7ff) God delights in using us in our weakness to make it clear that this is not our doing but God’s.

Proclaiming the gospel message to all people at all times can be a daunting prospect, particularly if we start to focus on whether or not we are fully equipped to do what’s required. There are always many reasons why we think we cannot do what is asked of us. In a manner reminiscent of the excuses supplied by the guests invited to the feast (see Matthew 22), we are well practiced in our ability to be able to justify our inaction. Our reasons are many and various: we’re too busy, we’re not experienced enough, we’re too old, we’re too young, we’re not theologically trained enough, we’re just lay people, it’s not our job anyway...the list goes on. In the end all the excuses tend to boil down to one salient point: we don’t trust that God will work through us in our inadequacy.