Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being and Doing

Life is a combination of being and doing. In the context of making disciples, we have been considering what people need to have a full and abundant life. The first three needs we identified (identity, love, and acceptance) relate to our being and are addressed through the experiences in which the disciples are engaged. Row 5 in our Making Disciples Chart shifts us from the being to the doing aspect of life, or we might say, from receiving to initiating, or from taking to giving.

The gospel has a gift or grace dimension that always should precede expectations for a response, but discipleship cannot be fulfilled if all the believer does is bask in grace. At some point the disciple must be engaged fully in heart, soul, mind, and strength. The disciple must begin to do. A life solely based on the inflow of grace will become a Dead Sea if that grace is not channeled into acts and behaviors that give expression to who we are (identity), the love we have received, and the affirming acceptance we have experienced from others in the faith community.

I have chosen to call the first step of doing “achievement.” Setting it is the context of people’s needs, I have defined it as the need to act and behave in ways that enhance one’s self-esteem and status in the faith community. There are multiple dangers here: (1) that expectations for doing something will get ahead of experiencing grace (leading to works righteousness); (2) that we will put doing ahead of being (resulting in hypocrisy); (3) that actions will be initiated for selfish motives (selfishness); or (4) that good deeds will become a channel for calling attention to self rather than for serving others (pride).

Maybe “achievement” is not the best term to describe what I am seeking to communicate. Our goal in making disciples is that people will develop a sense that they are making a contribution that benefits those inside and outside of the community. That sense of making a contribution will bind them to the community as they recognize they are part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) and are contributing to the body’s health and well-being.

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