The Renegade Disciple

Please lock the door. Unauthorized people have been coming in.
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/4171379513/">Cory Doctorow</a>

Mark 9:38-41

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw this guy casting out demons on your behalf, but he wasn’t one of us, so we told him he had to stop that.”

“Don’t stop him,” Jesus replied. “If people are doing great things on my behalf they’re not going to be two-faced and curse me. If they’re not against us, they’re for us. I swear, if someone gives you a cold drink because you’re part of the movement, they’ll be rewarded.

The Jesus movement is not copyrighted. If anything it’s explicitly anti-copyrighted. Anyone can do it. Everyone is welcome to be a part of it. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

If John and the first disciples are any indication, Jesus followers have always had trouble with this concept. Today, there are thousands of groups claiming to follow Jesus. That’s a good thing. People all over the world are giving the Jesus movement a go. Unfortunately, many of those groups are trying to claim that they are the only “real” or “true” Jesus followers. That’s not such a good thing.

I once heard a story about a woman who claimed to be following Jesus. When asked where she had been baptized, said, “I baptized myself in my bathtub.” The person who told the story was of the opinion that she was certainly not a real Christian. She was unauthorized to carry out this kind of ceremony. She was not a member of any “real” church. She was a renegade, a “new ager,” an imposter.

I suppose she might have been all those things. But, if she was doing great things for Jesus, the truth is Jesus doesn’t care. She’s for the movement. She’s probably more for the movement than a lot of “official” church people. Maybe she’s not for the institution of the church, but again, the evidence from Mark suggests, Jesus doesn’t care. Leave her alone. Don’t stop her.

You might even try to be a little more like her. I’ll drink to that.

Whose Company Do You Keep?

2 boys with mentor
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vexrobotics/5632611860/">Vex Robotics</a>

1 John 2:24-29

May what you’ve heard at the outset always stick with you. If it does, you will remain with God and Jesus, and according to the promise, you will live forever.

I’m mentioning this about those deceivers, but you remain true to your commission and you don’t need any further instructions. Because your commission contains everything you need to know (it’s true, no lie), keep in touch with that. That’s what Jesus taught. So, keep in touch with Jesus, so that you’ll have no question or shame when you see him. Knowing that Jesus is a righteous dude, anyone who does what he does will also be righteous.

There’s a financial services company that advertises about “the company you keep.” But the recognition that you tend to become more like the people you hang around with came long before the slogan.

There are other adages, too. Birds of a feather. Peas in a pod. You get the idea.

On the one hand, staying always within the same social circles and spheres of interest runs the risk of becoming an unhealthy homogeneity. Like people who watch FOX and only FOX. Or others who watch MSNBC and only MSNBC.

On the other hand, when someone is really a “righteous dude,” it’s worth it to stick with her. Because like anything else, righteousness does start to rub off. I’m not advocating following with blind faith, mind you. Keep your eyes open. You still have to think and act for yourself. But a good example, when you can find one, is a priceless gift. And people who model a better way are worth sticking to.

You don’t have to stick to any doctrinal line to get that Jesus was one of those people. It’s just that you have to keep in mind that there are a lot of other people who haven’t made it yet who are also following along, too. Do what Jesus does, not what they do.

The Importance of the First Followers

Matthew 4:18-25

As Jesus walked along the seashore, he saw two brothers, Simon (also known as Peter) and Andrew, fishermen by trade, fishing with nets. “Follow my lead,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to start a movement.” So they began to follow. Then, he saw another pair of brothers, James and John Zebedee, who were in a boat fixing nets with their father. Jesus called them, and they followed, leaving their father behind.

They went around Galilee where Jesus taught in synagogues, preaching the message of hope, and curing anything that ailed the people. He was soon famous, even as far away as Syria. People started bringing others who were sick: the diseased, the deranged, the epileptic, the paralytic. And Jesus cured them. Soon great crowds were following him. People came from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the other side of the Jordan River.

From one man with a message, to crowds from all over the place, Jesus starts a movement. Note the importance given to the first few followers. Of all the people to follow Jesus: Simon, Andrew, James and John are the most important people in the story. They took the biggest risk, and they, not Jesus, made the movement around Jesus happen.

In three minutes, here’s what happened on the beach and around Galilee that day, courtesy of Derek Sivers and the folks at TED.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBngiABc73Q?w=550]

Two questions to think about:

  1. If you’re leading, who are your first followers, and how can you make it be about them?
  2. If you’re following, who are you following and why?