James’s thought for the week


Have any of you ever played Othello? I haven’t and in fact hadn’t even heard of the game until it was mentioned in a book I’m reading. Bruxy Cavey (yeah I know odd name) talks about Othello in this book not to discuss his strategies to win the game but because of its slogan,

“A MINUTE TO LEARN, A LIFETIME TO MASTER!” We are focusing on discipleship as a Church right now and Bruxy points out, rightly I believe, that Othello’s slogan is even more applicable to following Jesus than playing a board game. In one sense the basics of discipleship are easy to understand, its about making the decision to respond to Jesus call to “Follow Me.” Disciples are people for whom Jesus is both their forgiver and leader in life, or to use the New Testament’s language, a disciple is someone for whom “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9) Thankfully, you don’t need a post grad degree to understand and respond to the Gospel. However, just because the Gospel, the news of who Jesus is and what he has and the call to follow Him, is simple to understand and believe we shouldn’t make the mistake of believing that, discipleship is simplistic. Just like Othello, no far more than any game, discipleship will take a “lifetime to master!” That’s because discipleship is about learning to live, our entire life, in terms of every aspect of it, for our entire life, in terms of every day of it.

Unpacking some boxes last week, I found some certificates that I was awarded for completing various courses. There was no DISCIPLESHIP certificate for me to display proudly on my wall for following Jesus because it really does take a lifetime to master. I’m still very much a learner when it comes to following Jesus. Discipleship is a course in life we never graduate from. In church we have sometimes talked about “discipleship courses” and perhpas have given the impression that discipleship is a curriculum we can complete rather than a life we have to learn to live. There are certainly courses that can help us understand what living as a disciple is all about more fully, but we shouldn’t think completing a course means we have mastered being a disciple because discipleship is really learned in the context of our everyday lives, every day. In this book I’m reading Bruxy Cavey puts it like this: “So to say Jesus is Lord is to say that Jesus is the one I look to in order to learn how to live. Jesus not only shows us a God who is love, He teaches us how to live a life immersed in His love. Jesus’ way of life is ethically revolutionary. … Its important to say that embracing Jesus as our Lord gives our lives a new focus, a new purpose, a new sense of belonging and behaving according to a new ethic of love”

At Westlake some of us are relatively new followers of Jesus and others having been following Him for nearly all of our lives but however long we have been disciples of Jesus none of us have mastered it. There is still more to learn because life is constantly throwing up new challenges and situations for us in which we have to learn what it means to follow Jesus. The company behind Othello I think displayed some marketing magic by saying it “A MINUTE TO LEARN, A LIFETIME TO MASTER!” People like a challenge, they want to feel they are doing something worthwhile not something easy and trivial that takes little effort. If that Is true in the world of board games how much more is it true of life?

Discipleship is not the easiest way to live life, there are approaches to life that can be mastered, but it is the most significant and fulfilling. Jesus promised to those that would learn to live life from Him that they would experience “life, and life to the full” (John 10:10) We might never master discipleship but living as disciple means we shouldn’t be bored by it. So, let me ask you, what is Jesus teaching you right now about how to live in your life?