Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Mature Disciple: Part 1


Caravaggio's Salome with the Head of John the Baptist.
That's what this picture reminds us of. My friend Dave Huss took it this past Sunday during our farewell service. We were both worshiping. But by the looks of it you'd think Phaedra was holding my head in her hands. There is a good metaphor lying around here.

Well we head out this afternoon for a Laity Lodge retreat with Marva Dawn. Laity Lodge is the land where No Cellular Waves Can Reach. Forced rest. Fortunate for us Marva is speaking on sabbath-taking. We're entering a three-month long one, so we'll be all ears.

I'm copying an abbridged version of my swan sermon here: Parte uno. I have this thing about maturity you could say. I've written a couple of entries about a mature believer artist. I'll be speaking about it at the Nashville conference in August. Here we are again. It's a lifelong of sanctification, but I'm fascinated by how wonderfully long and adventurous it'll take to become my true self. My heart is definitely captivated by a vision of redeemed sons and daughters of the new Adam roaming the earth.
So I offer this as a little aid to prayer, perhaps even contemplation.
June 1, 2008
w. david o. taylor
My last sermon on staff at Hope Chapel

A Disciple of Jesus is Mature and Fully Assured

“[Epaphras] is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” ~ Colossians 4:12

What does this mean, to be mature?

Let me offer you the story of an apple tree. [Here Phaedra draws an apple tree on a white board behind me and I go into a story which I shall have to save for next time. The point is this. . .]

A mature apple tree is integrated, whole, holy, humble, confident, strong, deeply at home with itself, with others, and with God, deeply rooted, bearing fruit, continually growing into what it truly is, and full of “joy, joy, tears of joy” (Pascal).

But how do we go about describing maturity? It’s an important task. To leave it fuzzy is to risk slipping into behavioral management or what Larry Crabb refers to as externalized forms of approval and affirmation. . . .

Let me suggest that maturity is something we can attain (so the vision of an apple tree) and a movement. And there are three disciplines that help move in the right direction.

I’ll suggest a brief definition of the movement, what we’ll call “maturation,” then explore in greater depth the three disciplines.

Maturation

What does it mean to become mature? That is, what does maturation look like?

Maturation is a disciplined commitment to growing into who you are in the light, power and fellowship of God.

It is disciplined because maturity doesn’t just happen. Gentleness or courage don’t appear automatically. It is a daily, exercised thing, persistently pursued—like my wife’s garden.
It is a commitment because you have to choose it. And we have to keep choosing it all our life. But happily enough, the more you choose what is right and good, the easier it becomes to choose it.
It is about growing because the Christian life is about the everlasting expansion of life; so CS Lewis’ Narnia in The Last Battle.
It is about who you are as lovingly and carefully made in the image of God: a “glorious creature” (again Lewis).
It is in the light of God because only He can show you who you truly are.
It is by the power of God because only He can rescue you from sin and strengthen your soul with grace.
It is through fellowship with God because everything good that has ever happened and ever will happen, happens in that community riotous with life: Father, Son and HS in an everlasting merrymaking dance.

But what are the disciplines, or the muscles, that help us thrive in this process? If I had to distill it to three, it would be these:

Teachable: a mature disciple is teachable his whole life.
Talks to Jesus: a mature disciple talks to Jesus about everything.
Traveling Companions: a mature disciple chooses a few people to be his kindred traveling companions.

Let me take each in turn.

#1: Teachable

Journal entry, August 7, 2003: “Do I believe God can take me down?” Answer: “No.”

Much of my 20s and early 30s I lived by the motto: “I don’t want to be wrong.” If I can do it, I’m going to do it and I want to do it right.

The Jedi Master cum counselor-friend Kyle Miller says to me: “David, memorize on the tablets of your heart, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’.” (Matt 5:3).

My friends, if I had to choose between the words “humility” and “teachability,” I would choose teachable. It’s a vibrant, muscular word.

To be teachable is not to have your act together all the time, but it is to have the grace to acknowledge simply, freely, graciously when you don’t.

To be teachable is to be humble enough to say, whether at 15 or 65 years old, “You know what? I think need some more counseling in my life.”

To be teachable is to be confident in who I am, but to recognize that I’m still learning and am open to be surprised by God if He wants to do something new in me.

To be teachable is to recognize that I can learn from any of the people God puts around me—even from the people I don’t expect or want to learn from. Jesus: gentle, humble, teachable.

To be teachable is to abandon your self-defense mechanisms in favor of an open, vulnerable posture from which you can really be loved and love the people around you.

1 comment:

livingpalm said...

a refreshing cup of cold water for me this morning...thank you.
one of our covenant values at Union Center is "gospel humility" -- i love the way interchanging the word "teachability" sounds -
"gospel teachability"
ahhhhhh......