Sermon Text: Are you a disciple or just an imitation

October 18, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons, Sunday Message0

Proper 24A – Are you a disciple or just an imitation

  1. The saying goes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
    1. We imitate the people that are important or influential in our lives, but even more fundamentally imitation is a foundation of education
      1. How do we teach a child to speak, dress, or behave – by imitation. They see how our lips move to produce sound, they see what clothes go with what and what kind of behavior is appropriate in a given situation.
      1. In sports it’s the same, someone shows you how to go through the mechanics of throwing, skating, etc and then we refine those skills by practice and imitation.
      1. Of course, imitation can also have a negative connotation where something is a cheap knockoff of the original
      1. Like saccharine for sugar, or so many products that rush to market in the wake of something really big, they aren’t as good as the original
    1. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that just as we have to learn how to speak, dress, behave or play sports we have to “learn” how to be disciples
      1. And that process is done by imitation of other disciples or you end up with a lot of imitation disciples just like imitation products.
      1. What is an imitation disciple – one who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.
      1. They come to church on Sunday but that blessed hour is nothing more than an interlude in an otherwise unchanged life.
      1. That’s what Paul addresses this morning in our Epistle, making disciples
    1. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to make imitation disciples than disciples by imitation.
      1. Much of what we do in the modern church churns out imitations but not the real thing
      1. We pass our children through Sunday School and Confirmation. As adults we have weekly Bible study or adult information class
      1. And we think that information passes for discipleship, you’ve got the download now you’re the genuine article.
    1. That’s the way our society works
      1. There is an ever-increasing professionalization in almost all fields which usually just entails classroom time
      1. And somehow now you’re a more qualified mechanic, plumber, nurse, etc but you haven’t turned a wrench or laid hands on a patient
      1. So, it’s not surprising that in the church information has replaced formation in the discipling process.
      1. Are you a disciple or an imitation? Let’s see.
  2. Discipling like anything else in life requires formation
    1. And formation only happens hands-on watching what another has done, how the speak, act, read Scripture and then doing it.
      1. That’s what our Lord did with His disciples, He invested time in them
      1. He taught large crowds, He performed many miracles, but the importance of those things was discussed with the disciples as they journeyed together, ate together, etc
      1. A disciple (root word discipline) is disciplined in the ways of the Master, His thought process, His value system, His priorities – what the Master spends time doing the disciple will imitate
    1. We think of it as a foreign concept but I guarantee each of us is discipled, probably in more than one thing
      1. If you are a crafter, knitter, or enthusiast of any kind were you born with that innate knowledge and skill – no you had to devote time to hone it, and you set aside time to practice it
      1. If you’re a sports fan were you born knowing what a 4-6-3 double is (I had to look it up for the example) or an I formation in football?
      1. To know and understand the lingo it you have to study it, devote time to it – in short become a disciple
    1. Let’s look at the early church in Acts 2 what distinguished it as a discipling factory that changed the world
      1. Luke writes, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Act 2:42-46)
      1. The church was a family, knit together by blood, not the blood of kinship but the blood of Christ, they cared for one another, they fellowshipped around Word and Worship daily they were FORMED in community
  3. That’s what Paul is talking about in his letter to the Thessalonians this morning when he says, And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, (1Th 1:6)
    1. Thessalonians was probably written around 50 AD, Paul had planted the church there but was forced to leave quickly because of persecution.
      1. Everything Paul in his ministry did went to serve the purpose of furthering the Gospel and cultivating disciples
      1. Here’s what he says in chapter 2, “…we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” (1Th 2:7-9)
      1. To share not only the Gospel (information) but also ourselves…we worked night and day so as not to burden you WHILE we proclaimed the Gospel.
    1. This was the pattern of Paul’s ministry, this is how disciples are made, this is how the church grew as we hear in other letters
      1. In 1Co 4:15-17 he says, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”
      1. Or again, What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Php 4:9)
      1. Genuine discipleship looks like life, it’s not a classroom…it’s not even a worship service – those are part of it
      1. But it’s formation…now that you “know” the information how do you live?
    1. And what do genuine disciples do? They make other disciples by example and so the chain continues
      1. Listen to Paul in our reading, And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (1Th 1:6-7)
      1. How did my children learn the 10 Commandments, Apostles Creed and Lord’s Prayer before going to 1st grade, because we recited them at bedtime prayers.
      1. How did I learn to pray out loud in a group of believers, it wasn’t a course in seminary, it was with a small group of students gathered at our religion teacher’s house one Monday evening a month.
      1. Discipleship is about shared living, it’s not gotten in a classroom it’s learned by example
    1. Are we making disciples or just imitations?
      1. For whom are you modeling the faith, are you as diligent to equip your children in the faith as warn them about drugs, staying in school, or sports
      1. Who are you imitating in the faith, do you have someone who models the faith for you?
      1. What would have to change if our church was to become a discipling church?
      1. My brothers and sisters the challenge of our time in this increasingly secularized world is to reclaim the discipling community that the church used to be for the sake of its future.
Pinnacle Lutheran Church