Well it’s been almost a year since I tried to start a podcast and then 2018 happened. I had surgery, my dad had a heart attack, other family members were in poor health, and then I lost my Pappap in October. It was a very hectic and crazy time of life for me and so trying to get anything off the ground was very difficult for me.
That being said, it’s 2019, it’s a new year and I’m both excited and nervous for everything that God is doing. One of the things I’ve learned over time is that when you follow Jesus, nothing is certain except that fact that He will always be with you.
So the goal of this podcast is to give you a glimpse into how people are using their gifts to advance the Kingdom of God and how you can be doing the same in your world. With that, I’m looking to have as many people come on the podcast as possible. I want to share stories about every day Christ-followers who are doing their best to serve Jesus. Today, since I’m re-launching the podcast, I’m going to share a little bit about me and some ways in which I believe we can all work together as the church to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
But first, one of the things I want to focus on is humanity. We are all human. It doesn’t matter how famous or unfamous you are, we are all human, we make mistakes, we mess up, and sometimes those moments give us embarrassing stories that we can use to laugh at ourselves. I’ve learned in ministry that you have to have fun and laugh at yourself. If you take yourself too seriously you’ll burn out really quickly.
So since Valentine’s Day is here, I’ll share a super embarrassing Valentine’s day story. When I was in second grade there was this girl who had this super big crush on me. Unfortunately, I did not have that same crush on her. So after months of dealing with this crush, it came time for Valentine’s day. In our school everyone wrote cards to one another and put them in the boxes. Then you’d all open them in the class. Well, I decided that this was my chance to make sure this crush ended so I wrote in her card, “You’ll never be my valentine…whoops!” She began crying, then I was in trouble and so I started crying. It was horrible. Moral of the story? Don’t be a jerk like me.
Alright, let’s talk about our topic: Horrible Disciples
Horrible Disciples: 3 Characteristics Of A Jesus-Follower (Follow-Be Teachable-Go Out)
On my High School basketball team I was actually called rage because I would get so angry. I was also a goalie and when a bad goal would be scored against me I’d jump up and punch the crossbar. I’ve had to work hard over the years to tame the rage that enters my heart. I’m sure i’m not the only person who struggles with that anger that can rise up in my heart. You really have to rely on the Spirit in those moments so that your flesh doesn’t do something it should. 7-8 times out of 10 it’s anger with myself. I feel like I can’t do something right or I’m not good enough. And this tends to spill over into other relationships. Not that I’m always a perfectionist, but it just seems like things never go the way I want or expect them to.
Then I look on Instagram, Facebook, or other social media feeds and see these “rockstars” who are living the life and for a second I think, “They never do anything embarrassing.” Or “they have it all together.” But the reality is that they don’t. While Reality TV is never reality, there is definitely a beautiful element within those shows that allow us to see that we’re all screwed up people. But I think to some extent we fall into this “comparison trap.” Even with people we know on social media, we only ever see the highlights and good things. Very seldom do we get a window into the reality that exists between the posts.
As followers of Jesus, I think we often have this thought that some of these people in the Bible had it altogether. Especially when we think of the Disciples. I mean they lived with Jesus for years. Certainly they had it altogether. But that’s not how the Gospels depict them. Actually, when we really look at the Bible we see a bunch of horrible disciples! They can’t seem to do anything right or understand anything Jesus is saying. The Bible shows us disciples that were wrong more times than right. Jesus never calls us to have our life together when we start following Him. Instead He simply calls us to follow.
Let’s look at Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus finds Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth and says to him, “Follow me.” V. 11 shows us that the Pharisees were so upset that Jesus was eating with Tax Collectors and sinners. So Matthew, who encapsulated what it meant to be hated by the religious people of Jesus day, was asked by Jesus to follow Him. Jesus responds to the Pharisees saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have come not to call the righteous but the sinners.” Jesus wasn’t looking for the people who pretended to have it altogether. He was looking for the worst of the worst to show that God’s call to follow me is transforming. He’s able to take a sinner who’s willing to follow and turn them into a righteous person.
I recently asked the question, “What are some characteristics of a disciple?” and received a lot of good comments. Some of my favorites were:
Humility and love from Cynthia Powell
Obedience from Jameson Jenkins
A Will to follow from my father in law Ralph Serrapica
But my all-time favorite was from Stacy Brinkerhoff who said, “being able to deal with other disciples of Jesus.”
It’s kind of funny but also one of those where it hurts the soul a little bit because it’s so true. Dealing with other Disciples of Jesus can sometimes be a full-time job. Sometimes it just comes with the territory, but a lot of the time what happens is we allow our church cultures to develop into toxic, dysfunctional environments where we become afraid to keep people accountable. The reality is that we are all horrible disciples. We all make mistakes. We all gossip. We all do things we shouldn’t. But a true disciple isn’t one that is perfect, a true disciple is one who is teachable. A lot of our problems could be dealt with if we saw ourselves as students willing to learn. When we become teachable, it’s easier for us to be told something is wrong. It may still sting, but we can allow that discipline to shape us into a better disciple.
So a disciple is one who follows, one who is teachable, and a disciple is one who is sent out.
Christianity wouldn’t be what it is today if the disciples never actually did what Jesus told them to do. Jesus knew they would make mistakes along the way but insisted that they go into all the world preaching the Gospel, baptizing believers, and bring the Kingdom of God to earth.
I have seen many well-intentioned pastors say, “If you just say this one prayer you’ll be saved” but then there’s little-to-no follow up. If a disciple’s journey never leaves the four walls of the church, then they have neglected the command of Jesus. There is this escapist mentality that has risen in the church that we are saved and don’t have to do anything else. We come to church every week. We check off our religious checkmark for the week. And we go home and live our lives with nothing changed. In doing so we squander the good news that Jesus offers us. The goal of the Christ-follower is not to go to Heaven but to bring Heaven to earth. Many have moved away from the Apostles’ mission to live a nice, comfortable life. But we are called to so much more!
On a similar note, your pastor is not someone you pay to be your professional Christian. He’s not someone you vicariously live a better life through. We are all called to be a kingdom of priests. The word Pastor is someone who is a shepherd. They are there to guide you and keep your theology in check as you live out your ministry. Pastors and church staff are not the only ones who are called to ministry. If you follow Jesus, you are all called to ministry and to share the Gospel.
So this week your challenge is to find someone new to share the Gospel with. Whether it’s at your job, school, family, or wherever you are this week, your ministry is your life. There was a time when I couldn’t wait to get into full-time ministry and Pastor John Bowers said to me, “Full-time ministry isn’t working in an office at a church, full-time ministry is being obedient to the Holy Spirit wherever you are.” Those words have stuck with me for 10 years and I hope they’ll do the same for you.
Next week we’ll have on my good friend Mike Matthews who is a pastor in Claysville, Pa. He’s very unique in that he has Cerebral Palsy and for the longest time was put down saying he could never pastor with CP. But he’s doing it and he’s awesome! If you don’t follow him on Facebook, you’re missing out. He’s got a lot of great content and I’m looking forward to you all getting to know him on the next Empowering Hope Podcast.
About Justin Boothby