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Messy Discipleship

In our house, we used to have a beautiful set of drinking glasses that were made of translucent artsy green glass. Notice I said we “used to”…

A few weeks ago our house was full of the life, laughter, and mess of sharing our home and table with our community; after everyone left and my wife and I were cleaning up, we noticed one of our beautiful green glasses had a huge chip off the top. We now officially have only three of these nice glasses. They’ve moved from the threatened dishes list to the full-fledged endangered dishes list. I don’t have much hope for their survival either as they have yet to breed.

Just the other day a neighbor broke another one of our glasses, and as I was cleaning up the glittery shards, it hit me – if you have a complete set of dishes you just might not be on mission.

God’s mission is messy and costly. Think about it. In order for us to be a part of God’s family, to be his disciples, to get to live in eternity with him in his home, it cost him his comfort to the point of a dirty, torturous execution on a cross. Yet I often want to be his follower and have a life of comfort.

I want to do hospitality my way, on my time, around my schedule, with the people that are easy for me to be around, and I want to have a complete set of dishes when I am done. But this just isn’t the life God has called us to. God calls us to not just have hospitable events but to have an open door and hospitable life. Jesus was available for the sick. He fed the hungry crowds when it was inconvenient. He hung out with the drunks, tax collectors, lepers, and sinners. His way of discipleship was dirty and probably smelly.

I have a friend that has modeled this hospitality well and as a result often has men in his home that are so drunk and out of it they sometimes foul their pants. He and his wife have literally cleaned man-poop off their floor. This grosses me out and makes me want to think twice about the people I let into my house, but oddly enough it also inspires me. It looks so much like Jesus. A couple of weeks ago my neighbor’s daughter had a little present slip out of her diaper while they were visiting. We saw the log on the floor, and all of us wondered where it came from. I immediately checked my son’s diaper, and people were diaper checking all around until we found the culprit. I instinctively cleaned up the poop, de-sanitized the floor, and went on with what turned out to be a wonderful evening.

Sometimes discipleship means people are going to poop on your floor. If we are servants like Jesus, we get to clean it up. Jesus modeled this when he washed his disciples feet. At the time, everyone traveled on dirty, smelly roads in sandals and often were hopscotching around camel dung. Washing smelly feet was reserved for slaves, yet Jesus, the master, took the lowliest task and washed his disciples’ feet.

I like my things to stay nice, and I don’t like doing disgusting jobs. But I do want to follow Jesus, and I do want to be his disciple and make disciples.  To do this all the time means I am going to have to do some things I don’t like and lose some things I do like.

So again, if you have a full set of dishes and nobody has ever pooped on your floor, you might want to stop and examine if you are really on God’s mission.

Jake Chambers: A member of Jesus’ bride – the church, husband to his beautiful bride Lindsey, and a daddy to his boy Ezra. Jake is passionate about seeing the gospel both transform lives and create communities that love Jesus, the city, and the lost. He currently serves Red Door Church through leading, preaching, equipping, and pastoring. You can read more of his writing at reddoorlife.tv.