St. John Lutheran Church
Come & See, Serve & Grow
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.
I remember being at a conference a few years ago and New Testament Scholar Dr. Wally Taylor pointed out that Paul or the Pauline epistles in the New Testament don't use the word disciple. The word disciple is found in the gospels while the word imitator is found in the Pauline letters. Lutheran tradition is very much influenced by Pauline theology, so this might shed some light on how we may come to an understanding of discipleship, or lack thereof.
If you are at a loss to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, find a disciple and imitate that person.
A few years ago I was at Panera Bread and I saw that the way they trained to employees was to have them virtually at the hip of their trainer as they learned how to be an effective employee. In fact, I was told it is literally called "hip to hip training."
We often like to tell our children, "Do as I say, and not as I do." However, we know that in reality our actions speak much louder than our words.
If being a Christian is just about going to church once a week and getting the Sacraments "done" then your children and others are going to see that. Is that what you want others to imitate as a follower of Jesus?
Often times we feel that if we just lecture people to how it is supposed to be then the pews will be full on Sunday. That really isn't how Christianity works or the reason it has flourished throughout history. Our actions as imitators of the divine love we know in Jesus Christ gives witness to the new life we have received in Jesus. This is what people see and respond to. If we live like our faith in Jesus Christ matters then those who observe, follow and imitate us will likely follow suit.
Being in community and relationship is the key here. I need a mentor in Christ, someone to imitate, someone to disciple me, and I need to be disciplining someone else at the same time. When we do this we are asking people to do as we do, and according to the letter to the Ephesians we are going to be living different lives than how the rest of the world operates.
May others do as we do, as we live and love as Christ loves us.
Pastor Adam Sornchai