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Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

You've Got a Job to Do - April 29, 2018

Matthew 28:16-20

This is a song I learned from my mom. She taught me how to do it. And you know who taught her to do it? Her friend Jackie, who was also her camp counselor way back when my mom was young. and do you know who taught Miss Jackie? (no) me either, but someone did, and someone taught them. They passed down this tradition, one to the other, taking the time to teach each other

how to do it.
Now, I just taught you. Do you think you're ready to go teach someone else? Maybe? Maybe not? Probably with more practice you'd be ready, right? Well, that's how teaching and learning work. We have to learn and practice and practice some more and then when we share it we often learn it even better!
There are a lot of things you've already learned to do in your lives...and so many more you will learn to do, and for a lot of things, you need someone to show you how, and teach you why, and help you when it gets hard. And that teaching is sometimes called discipling....it means teaching someone to do what the teacher does....to be a follower. Jesus had disciples and he taught them to do things and then when he got ready to go to heaven, he told them they would need to teach other people, and they did. And then those people taught people and they taught people....and on and on until maybe our grandmas and grandpas—in real life in our families, or maybe in the church, taught our parents or our Sunday school teachers and then they taught us....and then, we're asked to teach someone else....to help them learn about Jesus and more importantly to teach them how to be like Jesus.

Sermon:
This week, one of the neighbor kids found a garter snake and spent the afternoon playing with it. Then when it was time to go in, she found a bucket and put the snake in it and put it in her closet for the night. Fortunately, her mom found it and sent them both back out and then invited only her daughter back in.
I told our neighbor she could have all the snakes in the neighborhood. And wouldn't you know, the next day Ruth went up to play and was introduced to said friendly snake. And said, and I quote, "it was so nice!".
And all Rick and I could think was....well we can't say it in church, but the basic version is "heck no".

(Holding a snake) Who'll take it?
Not many. And even for the few of you who will, your first question is...."What kind is it?"
After all, momma didn't raise no fool!
To most of us, snakes are creepy and slithery, and they bite....just no thank you! Am I right?
So what do snakes have to do with today's passage?

Well, I'm fairly certain some of us hear these verses, particularly, " go and make disciples of all nations" and it's like someone asked us to hold a snake.....oh no, no, no, no, no!!!!!! Not a single chance. I am not gonna do that!
We think we know what this passage is about. We think we know what it means to "make disciples" and a lot of us just cringe. We don't want to be Bible-thumping, brow-beating, you're going to hell type Christians, so we just shake our heads and walk away. No disciple making for me.
But making disciples isn't anything like snake charming. Or even just holding a snake. It shouldn't seem threatening or awkward or awful in any kind of way. Making disciples isn't about coercion. It's not about threats of hell. It's about a gift of grace and freedom and redemption—all of which are blessedly good things. Things worth celebrating, not rejecting.
As we were preparing for worship today, the worship team read through a handful of translations of this passage, and we really liked the way The Message version put it. It says this:

Message version:
18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

Go out and train everyone you meet... in this way of life—that's the part about making disciples. It's about teaching people how to live like Jesus. Which, is really about teaching people how to live with grace and compassion and generosity—including people, loving people, and giving second chances. That seems worthy....manageable even maybe, right? In this version we're no longer making people do anything....but we're teaching them....training them...that's not harsh, judgmental or unloving; we teach and train people all the time. And what's the difference between teaching someone to read, or ride a bike, or swim, or teaching them to drive, or cook, or change the oil, or write computer code, or sing a song, or play an instrument? And if we can teach people to do those things....can't we also teach them to show compassion, or give themselves in humble service, or share some of what they have with someone who is lacking?
And if we're doing those things because we're following Jesus, and we teach people to give and forgive and love, and teach them when we stumble that we're not the best teacher, but Jesus is, then what we're really doing is making disciples of Jesus.
So, what if we were asked to live a life that shows people who Jesus was and what he did, not just with our words, but also with our actions, could we get behind that? Are we willing to do that with a few? What about with a few more? And more than that? What if we were willing to show Jesus through our actions anywhere and everywhere we went? And what if that's what it means to make disciples of all the world? Does it feel less daunting? Less awful? Less judgmental? Would you be willing to consider yourself a disciple-maker?

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