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Modern-Day Discipleship, Week 1: Call to Discipleship

Following Christ in the 21st Century

The word "disciple" might conjure images of robed figures following Jesus through dusty villages in ancient Judea. But the call to discipleship isn't confined to the pages of a history book. It's a vibrant, ever-evolving journey open to all who seek to follow Christ's teachings. As United Methodists in the 21st century, we may wonder how this calling translates to our modern lives filled with technology, fast-paced schedules, and complex social issues.

At its core, discipleship remains unchanged. It's about dedicating ourselves to Jesus' teachings, actively seeking to live a life that reflects his love and compassion. In the Gospels, we see Jesus calling his disciples not just to believe, but to actively follow him (Mark 1:17). This translates to a commitment to growing in our faith, deepening our understanding of scripture, and striving to embody Christ's character in our daily actions.

Sure, the world we live in is vastly different from first-century Judea. Yet, the core principles of discipleship – love, forgiveness, service, and justice – remain timeless.  The challenge lies in applying these principles to the complexities of our modern world.

Love in Action:

Consider the concept of love. In a world that often prioritizes self-interest, how do we actively extend Christ's love to others?  Perhaps it's showing patience with a harried coworker, offering a helping hand to a struggling neighbor, or simply offering a kind word to someone having a bad day.

Living a life of service in biblical times might have involved feeding the hungry or healing the sick. Today, these needs remain, but they manifest differently.  Volunteering at a homeless shelter, supporting a local food bank, or simply offering a listening ear to someone in need are all ways to translate service into action.

The fight for justice was a central theme in Jesus' ministry.  As United Methodist disciples, we are called to advocate for the marginalized, the oppressed, and those whose voices go unheard.  This could involve supporting social justice initiatives within the church, contacting our representatives about policies that impact the vulnerable, or simply speaking out against injustice in our communities.

The beauty of discipleship lies in its personal nature. There's no one-size-fits-all approach.  It's about discovering how your unique gifts and talents can be used to further God's work in the world.  Perhaps you have a passion for music that you can share by leading worship. Maybe you have a knack for organization that can be a blessing to your church community.  Even seemingly small acts, done with love and intention, can be powerful expressions of your discipleship.

Reflection and Growth:

So, how do we begin (or continue) on this path of discipleship?  It starts with reflection.  Take some quiet time to consider your own faith journey.  What drew you to Christ?  What does it mean to you to be a follower of Jesus?  How can you more actively integrate his teachings into your daily life?

This isn't a one-time exercise.  Discipleship is a lifelong journey of learning, growing, and striving to live a life that reflects Christ's love.  The United Methodist Church offers a supportive community to guide and encourage you on this path.  Through participation in worship services, small groups, and ministries, you'll find opportunities to connect with fellow disciples, learn from experienced mentors, and discover ways to live out your faith in meaningful ways.

The call to discipleship may not be a dramatic one, but it's a profound one. It's an invitation to transform your life by aligning yourself with Christ's teachings and actively working to make the world a more loving, just, and compassionate place.  

Are you ready to answer the call?

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