Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bishop’s Note: November 9, 2017 – Discipleship

Bishop Eric Menees

Last week, at our 58th Annual Convention, I announced that the ministry concentration for the year ahead would be “discipleship.” Beginning with this week’s Bishop’s Note, and throughout the year, I will be writing on the theme of discipleship.

This begs the question: what are the marks of a disciple of Jesus Christ?   Of course, the whole of scripture can be cited in response to this question. But in my prayers this week, St. Paul captured my attention when, in his letter to the church in Rome, he wrote this:  “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:12-13)

A Disciple of Jesus Christ Rejoices in Hope.

As Christians we have hope – no matter what - in Jesus Christ.

Three weeks ago I was called to the hospital to visit a young woman named America and her baby Moses. Moses was born two months early at 2.5 lbs. and suffering with hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). When I came into the hospital room, America was with another parishioner from Our Lady of Guadalupe and they were praying.  America was radiant and stated emphatically, “Bishop, I know that God is in charge and He will give us the strength to love and care for Moses not matter what!” Wow, what a beautiful demonstration of the hope we have in Christ. I came to minister to America, and she ministered to me!

A Disciple of Jesus Christ is Patient in Tribulation.

Some believe that if we accept Jesus Christ everything will be perfect – we’ll have health, wealth, and be handsome. Jesus never promises that all will be well. He does, however,  promise never to leave us or abandon us. (Matthew 28: 20) The fact is that we live in a fallen world full of sin and sadness – it is a consequence of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and our continued willful disobedience. However, Jesus promises us blessings if we are persecuted on his account: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt. 5:11-12)  If we are living a Christian life, we should expect tribulation!

A Disciple of Jesus Christ is Constant in Prayer.

We are called to follow Jesus’ example and pray, pray, pray.  Jesus would regularly get up early and go off to pray by himself. (Luke 4:42)

St. Paul teaches us to pray unceasingly: “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17) And you know what? God hears and answers every one of our prayers. Ultimately we want to join Jesus in the prayer, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done!”  (Luke 22:42)

A Disciple of Jesus Christ Contributes to the Needs of the Saints.

St. Paul quotes Jesus: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9.7) In the first century there was a horrible drought in Israel and Christians in Jerusalem were suffering. St. Paul organized the church in Macedonia to collect money and food to help them. This was the first time in recorded history that people were helping those based on a common faith and not culture or nationality. Helping others - sacrificing for others - is a foundational quality of Christians. As Christians, we help others not out of a desire to earn God’s love, but in response to it!

A Disciple of Jesus Christ Seeks to Show Hospitality.

The Greek term in the New Testament for hospitality is (philo-zenia – φιλο-ξενία) and is actually a compound of the words for “love” and “stranger.” Therefore, being hospitable is more than being nice and polite – it is literally “loving a stranger.” A disciple of Jesus Christ goes out of their way to assist the stranger – to help the dispossessed.  Again, this is a foundational quality of Christians. All people, races, creeds, nationalities and languages are invited to church to worship the Lord. 

This week my prayer for you, and my prayer for me, will be that God grants us the strength and courage to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Bishop Menees

The Thirty Nine Articles:

XXXVIII. Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common.
The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

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