Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Long Obedience - Discipleship

My annual pilgrimage to a campsite in France is an oasis of calm for me when I get the opportunity to read a lot and quiet my heart to listen more acutely to my God. The subject of Discipleship has been on my mind and heart recently as God calls us not to be believers but to be disciples. An old book by Eugene Peterson called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society was my first port of call.

It took me on a journey through a group of Psalms that are commonly called the Songs of Ascent. Songs for the road that were sung by the pilgrims on their journey towards their spiritual home Jerusalem.

Here are a few of the quotes that stood out for me in the first chapter.

The essential thing "in heaven & earth" is there should be long obedience in the same direction; there  thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living. - Nietzsche

There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a school room, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.

There is a vast difference between a tourist and a pilgrim.

Pilgrim tells us we are people who spend our lives going some place, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way of Jesus Christ.

The world whispers a lie into the ear of every Christian; There is no payoff for discipleship, there is no destination for pilgrimage. Get God the quick way, buy instant charisma.

Discipleship has a great deal to do with competence, earned by struggling for excellence, with compassion, hard won by confronting conflict; and modesty and patience, acquired through silence and suffering.

The songs of Ascents recorded in the Psalms are not monuments, but footprints. A monument only says, At least I got this far, while a footprint says, this is where I was when I moved again.


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