I remember my dad telling me that I was much stronger than he was at my age. I was startled to hear this from “Stoker Fleming” the famous bear wrestler. “Yes” he said, “When I was your age I could never carry eighty dollars of groceries, in one hand!”
He had some good advice about carrying things. I well remember his lesson about what he called “A lazy man’s load.” This was a huge load being juggled rather than taking the time to make two safe trips. My lessons (yes plural, I am a slow learner!) always involved picking up dropped loads and tidying up the resultant messes all the while absorbing the ‘lazy man’s load’ lesson.
Those lessons, slowly, taught me, that short cuts are often not shorter and seldom efficient. A stitch in time does eventually save nine!
In our instant-microwave-twitter culture this is a hard lesson to apply. This may especially be true for the Church. Our task is to make disciples and we set about in all sorts of ways in search of cool quick ways to raise up such disciples. Programs become paramount. Each new method begins with promise but too often fall short like my ‘lazy man’s load’. Enormous energy is expended for little result.
In the meantime have we avoided the ‘harder’ but actually easier work of personal disciple making. The organized Church cannot carry the load which is intended for the Church the people of God. A look at nature tells us that things multiply after their own kind. Churches may produce more churches but only Christians can truly produce Christians.
The Church of the West has dropped a load she was not meant to carry. We have failed to equip, expect and inspect, the ministry of our fellow Christians to make disciples. This is the Church’s failure because we have consumed the energy of our fellows with the weight of maintenance. This weight becomes heavier as we ignore our mission of making disciples. They are weary and we are weary and the culture around doesn’t find this attractive.
Jesus provides the answer to this dilemma. He says “Repent” simply turn away from self-effort and turn to him. We can learn from him the secret of disciple making. Cultivating a growing relationship with him through our own worship, study, and prayer. No short cut will do. There is no microwaving in this Kingdom, God marinates! Then we begin to love others looking for those who show an interest and sharing our ‘good news’. Again there are no short cuts but in the end we are much more likely to see changed lives.
Organized Church may create a Christianity a mile wide but it is likely only an inch deep. The depth of faith of a disciple is in direct relationship to the depth of relationship with the disciple maker.