Last weekend I had the privilege of preaching at a friend’s church on chapter 13 of John’s Gospel, in particular these verses:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
We talked—okay, mainly I talked, but there were also many conversations afterwards—about how obedience to that commandment plays out in all sorts of varied and creative ways, everywhere in our lives. Or at least it should.
Take, for example, the youth leaders at my church who set up for the morning service (which they don’t attend) after the youth have gone home, at about 11pm on a Friday night. Or the people in church who commit themselves to pray for others they’ve never met, or those who cook meals for people in the community who are struggling. Or those who intentionally move conversations after church towards reflecting on what God has been teaching them. Or the people who go to the detention centre with food, both physical and spiritual.
I hope this kind of week-long, outside-of-church discipleship is not news to us, but I certainly find it a constant struggle to put it in to practice. Perhaps you’re in the same boat.
This edition of The Briefing—published here over the next two months—reflects the wide scope for seeing that priority of discipleship in practice. Paul Grimmond kicks off a series on ‘work’—whether full-time employment in a factory, or stay-at-home parenting, or Christian ministry—and starts by looking at what our works contribute to this creation, and our God-given position within the created order (published here July 2). I think this will be a really critical series in equipping us to think biblically about what work is, what its function is, and how it fits in to what God commands and equips us to do.
The late Mark Ashton wrote to us a while back about parenthood in the light of God’s fatherhood. His article is less of a parenting how-to guide, and more of a sketched biblical model of how parenting ought to reflect what God has revealed to us (look for it on July 15).
Continuing the family theme, Gordon Cheng writes about children’s ministry, and in particular who in the church family can or should be part of discipling the young people of our congregations (July 8). And Hannah Ploegstra writes a short testimony of how she’s been spurring on some other mums in this important area of discipling kids (July 19).
Emma Thornett’s article is the first of what we hope will be a stimulating occasional series exposing the lies the enemy feeds us; this issue’s article is about the lies he feeds us about singleness. Again, it’s focused on how trusting Jesus and following him plays out in the specifics of life in God’s family (August 19).
Christian discipleship is more than an hour or two on Sundays: the example set for us by Jesus of laying down our lives in serving and loving others is one he commands us to follow, every hour, all week.