Each month we’ll be hearing from one of our Regional Ministers, to encourage us along the way as we continue empowering missional disciples in our communities across the West of England.

What do a passionate, charismatic fisherman, a traumatised woman in a Spiritual battle, an ostracised, yet wealthy tax collector and a high-ranking religious leader wrestling with his beliefs have in common? They all walked with Jesus!  (Simon-Peter, Mary of Magdala, Matthew, Nicodemus) 

Jesus has always chosen people in life and ministry that don’t necessarily fit the ‘norm’. Following Jesus means that we need to ‘get used to different’ – not just in who he calls, but in what he calls us do and how he calls us to do it.  

If a disciple is ‘someone learning the way of Jesus in their context at each moment’[1], then that ‘difference’ applies to every part life. There should be no areas where we are not learning to follow Jesus and recognise his presence whether in the workplace, school, college, home, amongst friends/neighbours, online, in the public square, our leisure spaces or in church etc.

As a 1st century disciple, life with Jesus would have been exciting, wonderful, difficult, confusing, surprising, costly, and transformational – just like it is for us as we walk with Jesus today.

To be a disciple of this unconventional rabbi is the most wonderful gift. It means being fully known (strengths and weaknesses, past, present, and future), fully accepted and fully held in his love. We are offered a new identity – ‘you are a new creation’[2] where God says, ‘do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name.’[3]

Whilst we are called as we are, Jesus loves us far too much to leave us as we are. He longs that we flourish, becoming more fully who he created us to be. His desire is to pour healing, wholeness, renewal, and godly transformation into our lives. The more we ‘hang-out’ withJesus, the more we will become like him, reflecting his glory wherever we are! ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well!’[4]

Being Jesus’ disciple is the most exciting thing we can do, but it can certainly be surprisingand usually means giving up control and predictability.  Jesus certainly wasn’t the kind of Messiah those first century disciples had been expecting; things didn’t unfurl how they’d thought they would, and Jesus didn’t act how they thought he should.

Following Jesus today can still feel confusing. He continues to work in surprising ways that are often at odds with our expectations! There is rarely a route-map and even when there is, the way forward can be foggy! Yet, even amidst the fog, as we firmly hold onto Jesus, we can trust that somehow, he will lead us through.

For those first disciples being with Jesus was not only confusing but costly. Some had given up status (Matthew), vocation (Simon-Peter and Andrew). Others had found their understanding of faith/religion challenged (Simon the Zealot and Nicodemus) and Mary the mother of Jesus had an agonising walk with her son all the way to the cross! The call to follow Jesus has never been/will never be a call to assert our rights, but rather a call to lay down our lives for the sake of his Kingdom.

Today, most of us in the West won’t have to give up our jobs, leave our families or die for our faith. All of us however are called to radically reorder our priorities in the light of the coming Kingdom of God.

It will be exciting, wonderful, difficult, confusing, surprising, costly, and transformational. Once you commit to a life with Jesus, things will never be the same again!

Love so amazing so divine demands my life, my soul, my all.’ (Isaac Watts, 1707)

Lindsay Caplen
Regional Minister

[1] Neil Hudson, LiCC

[2] Based on 2 Corinthians 5:17

[3] Isaiah 43:1, NASB

[4] Matthew 6:33, NIV