I keep sitting down to write blogs and coming up with a big fat nothing. I apologize for the delay. And I'm feeling like no one reads this blog anymore anyways, so it's probably only my mom who noticed!
I know I still owe y'all the second half of Sarah's wedding, plus I need to give you a weekend update from this past weekend because it was a good one. . . but for now, I feel like I should talk to you about chapter five of Radical. If you've read my previous posts on Radical (here, here and here), you know that I like the book and think it could be somewhat life-changing if people read it and start doing and working on the things Platt talks about. That said, chapter 5 is my favorite chapter of the book. Why? Because Platt is talking about making disciples and the importance of personally investing your life into others. And mentoring? Is a little bit close to our hearts, seeing as we're moving to the 22nd most dangerous neighborhood in the U.S. in order to mentor the least of these. Although, as a side note, I read here today that the study stating the most dangerous neighborhoods is being disputed because recent info shows that Pittsburgh (#22) is actually the most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta.
As another side note I would like to apologize because I have apparently forgotten how to write in my blogging hiatus.
Back to disciple-making. Platt spends a lot of time in chapter five pointing out what Jesus' ministry looked like while He was on earth. And yes, he fed a lot of people, healed people, taught people, turned over some tables, performed miracles . . . but the most important thing he did (according to him in John 17), was invest his life intentionally and fully into 12 men: "All he wanted was a few men who would think like he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world" (Radical 88). I cant help but think that if Christians would follow Christ's example and really invest their lives into a few people, then the world would be changed. Literally changed.
I have had so many people tell me that they don't really think anything can ACTUALLY change in the inner-city. And it's true that there are systematic, BIG, overwhelming problems in the inner-city. To quote my friend Tim, "the inner-city is hemorrhaging." I quickly get overwhelmed by the size of the problems and it's easy to start thinking BIGGER to try and find a solution - like more programs, more money, more buildings, more whatever . . . But I truly believe that if we can inspire and motivate people who love Jesus to come love and invest their lives into people in the city, Atlanta can (and will) be transformed.
Unfortunately, making disciples is messy. It's harder than planning an outreach or building a big church building. Harder how? Because you have to make yourselves vulnerable. You have to open yourself up to hurt in order to love and disciple other people. And the truth is that you probably will get hurt. And you wont be able to change or "save" everyone. I have to tell myself that over and over again with the kids we're working with. I mean, even Jesus had one of his disciples who betrayed him. Who didn't get it, who missed the point, and was enticed by evil to follow the world instead of his Savior. And that, I must imagine, hurt Jesus. Because he was fully human. And if Jesus was hurt in the process of making disciples, I should consider it a privilege to have the same thing happen to me.
We believe, wholeheartedly, in the importance of investing our lives in others. In the ability of people spending themselves on behalf of the poor and down-trodden to literally transform a community. Dream with me for a minute and think about what would happen if people started joining with us in disciple-making in our neighborhood downtown. What if people who loved Jesus believed with MLK Jr said: "Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” Meaning that having the most dangerous neighborhoods in the US less than an hour away was a big deal. It threatened justice in the backyards of East Cobb, of Woodstock, of Roswell. And if people decided to do something about it. And if we mobilized and started making disciples of the next generation? What if the 22nd most dangerous neighborhood in the U.S. suddenly became a haven where people loved each other? Where we served our community and they served one another in return? Where the neighborhood wasn't marked by violence or fear but by love and peace. I think people might notice. The WORLD might notice. And be transformed.
"Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his flory. He has given us people, and he has said, "Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead other to follow me. In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth."
"The plan of Christ ifs not dependent on having the right programs or hiring the right professionals but on building and being the right people - a community of people - who realize that we are all enabled and equipped to carry out the purpose of God for our lives."
"All of a sudden, holiness is defined by what we do. We are now a community of faith taking Jesus at his word and following his plan, even when it does not make sense to the culture around us and even when it costs us."
"I praised God for the beauty of the body of Christ. Brought together from different backgrounds, and having journeyed through different struggles, we find ourselves joined together as one in the life of Christ. Disciple making involves identifying with a community of believers who show love to one another and share life with one another as we live together for the glory of God."
*Visit Marla's blog to read more responses to chapter 5*