I recently ran across a very appealing description of the "perfect person." It said, "The perfect person doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, doesn't cry, doesn't fail and doesn't exist." I like that last phrase most of all. So much for idealism!
And that got me to thinking, what about the "perfect disciple?" Is there such a thing? What might a "perfect disciple" be like?"
As I mused over this question, three words instantly came to mind. Even though "perfect" is not one of them, they all lead toward a rendition of what might be considered an "ideal disciple" in the heart of God.
To be a disciple is to be a learner. That's what the word means. The way and manner one learns is crucial to the formation of our character. So here are my three words for a perfect disciple; an ideal learner.
w Humble. People who understand that life is "not all about them" are aware of a larger story. They have come to learn (perhaps the hard way) that maybe they are not exactly the best thing since sliced bread. They now know how to assume their rightful place before God and among others (Ecclesiastes 5:2, Romans 12:3). These are the people who are more likely to be teachable, grateful, relatable and deployable in the causes of Christ's kingdom. "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble" (James 4:6). We learn best when we believe we have more to learn and have not arrived.
w Hungry. People who are truly desperate for God and for a fresh start on life are focused on grace, growth and godly outcomes. Chasing after what matters most (Matthew 6:33) means leaving life's shallow nonsense at the door. It means desiring truth and hope more than comfort, coddling and personal preferences.
They are willing to exchange the pretense of a "together life" in order to lay hold of an "in-recovery" identity that actually offers true transformation which is rewarding, meaningful and life-giving. We learn best when we believe we are most alive in a surrendered and intimate relationship with God.
w Honoring. People who get what "life together" should look like are ready to settle in with a diverse crowd of people who are still under construction. They reserve judgment and ramp up engagement. They build bridges, ask questions and learn to celebrate folks they used to not understand or get along with. They hone the skill of honoring the image of God in everyone by embracing the mind of Christ for themselves (Philippians 2:5). We learn best when we believe we are benefitted and blessed by a wide variety of people who are each heaven's gift of added-value and favor upon my life.
Discipleship, following and becoming like Jesus, is no easy journey. It is fraught with peril, mystery, suspense, reward, difficult passages and ultimate joy! The greatest rendition of your life and mine is found in discovering who God made you to be through Jesus Christ.
Embracing your three traveling companions, Humility, Hungry and Honoring, will help you to successfully complete your mission and finish your journey. "To the one who overcomes I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7).
-- The Rev. David Parker is lead pastor at Central United Protestant Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.