Thursday 23 February 2012

Michael Horton on Radical, World-Changing Discipleship

Michael Horton has written a wonderful post on ‘the call to radical, world-changing discipleship’. It’s directed especially towards preachers, but is more widely applicable. It functions as a helpful reminder to be a bit more thoughtful than we sometimes are when we call on people to ‘change the world’.

Citing James Davison Hunter’s notion of ‘faithful presence’, Horton writes of those who ‘don’t set out to change the world but to live out their identity in Christ where they are in all sorts of ordinary ways that sometimes turn out to present extraordinary moments of extraordinary opportunities for extraordinary service’.

He has some lovely examples of what he has in mind, which I happily cite in full:

‘Think of the nurse who dragged herself out of bed to attend the means of grace after having worked a fifteen-hour shift. Ministers shouldn’t feel guilty for not having cared for the physical needs of hundreds of neighbors in the hospital this last week. But why should they load down this nurse for failing to “live her faith” because she extended hours of neighbor-love in her ordinary vocation rather than as an identifiable church-related “ministry”?

‘Or picture the parents of 4 children, one of whom has a rare blood disease. They both work tirelessly, one outside the home, loving and serving neighbors. They would like to have more friends and open up their home. Stirred by the opportunities and needs to volunteer for all sorts of good causes, they find that all of their time, energy, and resources go to caring for their family. Are they world-changers? Should they be giving more time to “finding their ministry” in the church, so that the church can receive the credit for having an impact on the community?

‘I also think of the banker who came to church today. On Thursday he stretched the “best practices” a bit to extend a low-interest loan to a responsible but disadvantaged young family for their first home.

‘I picture the mom and dad who, though tired at the end of a busy day, read Scripture and prayed with their children and then tucked them into bed with an imagination-building story.

‘A Sunday school teacher who labored over the lesson in between working two jobs, the high schooler whose vocation is to learn, grow, and assume civic as well as church responsibilities, the struggling artist who makes us all stop to imagine ourselves and our place in the world a little differently, the lawyer who prosecutes the claims of justice and defends the rights of the accused – who just this past week offered pro bono hours to a victim who couldn’t afford legal advice.’

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