It's tough to answer because what may come normally to you may be completely taboo to someone else. It's subjective.
So, let's just say that something is normal when more people do it than not.
When I think of normal in that way, a really good example that comes to my mind is driving. It doesn't get more normal than that; like, every person will drive in their life unless they have some kind of disability that prevents such.
Driving is so practical that we do it without considering the dangers of highway travel. It's so normal, the reasons for doing it are self-explanatory. If you don't know why you should learn to drive a car, you are probably 2 and can barely say normal......or car, for that matter.
This is an analogy for the normality of discipleship discussed in Pastor Delores's sermons.
She uses the Rabbi as an example because the Rabbi was perceived to be as close to Jesus as a human could get back then. At least that's how it was to the Jews.
People would grow up knowing that they were going to have to aim to become a Rabbi, so dittoing Jesus and His ways were what they did. It was normal! Take this "getting a license" concept as my way to express how normal seeking discipleship was to them.
Don't get it twisted, though. This isn't an attempt at making you see the wrongs of your life or to make you think that they were better than us. Discipleship was literally as normal to them then as driving is to us now. So now I ask:
WHEN DID BEING A DISCIPLE STOP BEING NORMAL?
Even better, how do we make that normal again?
To tell you the truth, the church is really lenient on the meaning of discipleship. By that, I mean being a Jesus follower is such a blurred concept for various reasons.
One of the biggest ones I believe it could be is the corruption of our leaders. That's a dark concept in itself, but hear me out: imagine if I was a church and I wanted more people to come to me. What if I knew that the reason they weren't coming was that they thought they weren't good enough for me, the church?
Well, the easy fix is to accept any person no matter what they did or who they are. I, the church, would tell EVERYONE that EVERYTHING they are doing is fine as long as they come to church and serve the Lord. It's not that simple, but you get the point. Needing more money; needing more members skewed the understanding of being a Jesus follower. It watered down the significance of wanting to be a disciple.
As discussed in the first part of the sermon series, you don't need to feel intimidated about following Jesus. Like many things in life, you aren't going to be a master at it in the beginning. It takes time to grow into your best self.
So, in essence, this practice is not inherently bad. Inviting people into the church and providing resources to worship and gain insight into the word of God is precious. However, we know that some churches have amplified this process for financial gain.
The corruption mixed with the years of self-doubt is probably what caused the decline of the church, OR the nonnormality of being a disciple of Jesus.
Ultimately, what has happened is a transition from discipleship being a way of life or normality to being a mere suggestion... Ew...
YEAH... THIS ONE ISN'T GOING TO BE FUN...
I know that sounds harsh, but that's literally all it is. Discipleship in today's church is a "you can" and not a "you should." We can actually CHOOSE whether or not we are going to follow Jesus. I know we have free will, but we're talking about the creator's son here.
To drive this idea home, I'm going to do something crazy.
I'll put MYSELF in the hot seat.
I consider myself to be a Jesus follower, right? But to be honest, no one challenging my choices. Sure, I come to church on Sunday, I play the drums for worship, I pray, and I even serve God and His people in other ways; some being via event support and writing occurrences like this one.
Still, I wonder if my sacrifices are enough...
Matter of fact, you might be thinking that about yourself right now. Like... How do I know if I am "disciple-ing" enough? Or better yet, how do I know if I will ever be worthy of calling myself a disciple.
God has stripped some things from me for no reason that I can see right now. Life sucks sometimes.
You lost a lot... Lord knows I have, but my lights still turn on, right? I still have a pretty lady lying beside me every night, right? There's a guy right now without a leg who can't even get a half-off discount at Shoe Show to save his life, and I'm complaining about my flat tire...
No matter what you do, you still wonder, "Why me, God?" Sometimes, you get really dark thoughts like "Bro, how you gonna take that away from me? Why do I even work for you? What's the point..."
No one will judge you for feeling that way. I believe, in fact, that not even Jesus will blame you for feeling that way.
Discipleship has been represented in the bible to be something that you practice even when times are hard.
SO, WHAT COULD CAUSE PEOPLE TO SHUN JESUS?
Here's an interesting thought. All of your friends have jobs, right? I am 100% sure that none of them work or would work for free EVEN if they loved that job. Am I right?
What if Christians as a whole are tired of working with no results. I think that we've been conditioned so hard for that sweet instant-gratification for any sacrifice. We've become slaves to the "give an hour, make a dollar" mindset of today's social and mental economy. What if that has trickled over into the values of discipleship.
That's scary... That's REALLY scary! You know why? Because the world's people will never stop working for money. We can't go back. We need money to pay bills. We need capital to run our businesses. The average person literally needs money to survive. (I say the average person because I'm sure that Robert (Pastor Delores's husband) could easily be Tarzan if he wanted to; eating bugs out of logs and crap... the whole 9.)
But, I digress.
It's a truly frightening thought that we are possibly conditioned for immediate rewards for a sacrifice that it would bleed into Christian beliefs. I admit that I am a victim of this mindset, as well.
There's no secret that many of the leaders here at Blythewood COGOP are volunteering their actual real-world time and energy to support the church. It is purely the love of God and the people of the church that motivate us.
However, I struggled with "working for free" for some time in the past. I love helping others, but I also know how time-consuming and energy-draining it can be.
This "Behind the Pastor" episode for example (when complete) will have taken me at least 6 hours to make. However, I do it.
For me, I don't know how else I can serve the Lord. I'm not perfect. I'm not anything close to a Rabbi. Heck, I barely can remember half the bible stories I was taught as a child.
One thing I do know, though, is I still love the Lord. I still love Jesus. I got a feeling he ain't gonna let me bake in this suffering for too much longer. It's that belief that keeps me going every day.
I can't say why wanting to be a disciple isn't normal anymore, but I believe Jesus adapts with the times. He gave us free will, so He and God had to imagine that we'd build automatic rolling-people-carriers and try to touch them with flying metal birds and create a way to talk to somebody across the country in a shiny calculator.
Normal is what we make it. Something doesn't have to be normal to the world for it to be normal to you.
Discipleship isn't normal anymore, but don't use that as an excuse. Per Pastor Delores and the Ditto series, you can still be a Jesus follower. There is never NOT enough time. You just have to do your best and never stop making moves towards Him.
Go in the comments and let me know if you like the flow of these chapters so far. This was the first series that I covered, and I want to make sure my break downs are easy to follow.
Either way, make sure you go to the Facebook page if you aren't already there so you can like, comment, share, and follow!! All your support keeps us STAY excited to bring you more content like this.
Also, my wife does events for the church, so you'll be able to keep tabs on that without worrying about missing something.
That's it for this one, but we will be back next week for another chapter of Behind the Pastor. We are going to start a new sermon series called Haunted House. Stay tuned for details on that!
Thanks for stopping by to read this chapter of Behind the Pastor, but until next time Cogopos: