At its simplest definition, a disciple is one who replicates the life of his or her leader. In our case at Love KC, we say, disciples live out the message and the methods of Jesus.
The starting point for us at Love KC when we think about discipleship is to take our lead from Jesus own words. We prioritize the two great commandments found in Luke 10:27. Jesus said they summarize the law and the prophets. What are they? I’m guessing you can quote, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Whew! That’s a mouth full!
There is so much there but for this moment let’s summarize, love God and love your neighbor as a starting point.
I’ve found there are a million plans on how to “love God” so I’m not going to mine that vein here except to say that these two are so interrelated that loving God must also include “loving your neighbor.” I’m sure you agree. But you might not agree with this if you don’t do the second well you are not keeping the spirit of the first.
Repeatedly, I hear sermons, read books and see plans for developing the love God command. What’s less common is to listen to plans for loving our neighbors as one’s self. This is the concern I want to lean into with you.
What does it look like to love your neighbor as yourself?
I like it that Jesus said, love your neighbor as yourself. This puts this action in one’s personal space. We can’t just say, in an aspirational way, I love everyone and be serious. Of course, you can’t love everyone as you love yourself. It is impossible and impractical.
That leads us to the question an expert in the law asked Jesus in this same section of scripture, verse 29, who is my neighbor? Jesus gave us both the “who” and the “how” when it comes to neighboring. The how is, you get up close and personal, and it is going to cost you something. The who, from his story of the Good Samaritan, is the person in proximity to you with a need. They could be ethnically similar or dissimilar to you. This was a radical thought to the Jew but not to Jesus.
I like to say that a neighbor could equal the obvious, one who lives nearby. Don’t overlook the person who lives next door. But it could also represent a coworker, friend, or person you know in a third space. Think” sphere of influence.” A neighbor could be anyone with whom you live, study, work and play.
Now that we’ve defined neighbor we are getting closer to determining what it means to be a disciple. Back to the two great commandments, I’m guessing you have a plan for loving God. You are probably willing to be held accountable for it. But do you have a plan for loving your neighbors as yourself?
Can I offer a starting point? Pray for your neighbors daily. Care for them as the Holy Spirit gives opportunity and share—share your life, your home, your story and the story of Jesus. Prayer, care, and share are a baseline.
I know people who say a step-up is loving with the B.L.E.S.S. rhythms.
B – Begin with prayer
L – Listen to both to God and your neighbor, then engage
E – Eat together (I have to admit I like this part)
S – Serve
S – Story, share your story and the story of Jesus
Still, others say, keep it simple, pray and connect.
On this we agree, have a plan for loving your neighbor and be as dedicated to loving horizontally as you are to loving vertically.
A discipleship plan that doesn’t involve loving your neighbors in tangible ways falls short. And, if you were serious about it, I ask, what would it look like for you to invite accountability?
To put it another way, live on mission every day. Join Jesus where He is already at work. See your neighborhood, workplace and social spaces as your mission field and think about yourself as a missionary.
Jesus lived incarnationally in our world. The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood is how the New Living Bible translates John 1:14. If we follow the message and the methods of Jesus, discipleship looks like allowing Jesus to live through us in our world.
In the pages of the Lovekc.net website, you find ways to grow as a disciple. There are stories, best practices, podcasts, articles and contact information with those who’ve decided loving your neighbor is not an option.
Remember, people are not to be a project. They deserve our best “Jesus-like” love. If that isn’t discipleship, I’m not sure what is.
Enjoy the website. If you have questions, ask. If you have suggestions, offer them. If you want to work together to reach our city, neighborhood by neighborhood, home by home, person by person, let’s partner together.