How Long (if Ever) Has it Been?

Dear Friends:

RECORDED AS JESUS' LAST WORDS in Matthew's gospel is what has become known as the Great Commission:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18b-20)
These words, quite rightly, have been used as not only a directive for any who choose to follow Christ but also as words of comfort, knowing that wherever we may go, Christ will be with us always.
Yet, what, exactly, does Jesus mean when he says, "...[M]ake disciples..."?
The stated mission of The United Methodist Church is:
"To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World."
There it is again..."[M]ake disciples..."
What is a disciple of Christ? How does one become a disciple of Christ? How does one be a disciple of Christ?
By now, all of you on our snail-mail newsletter list should have received a brochure (found here) outlining the next phase of our congregation's life - A Disciple's Path. In this seven-Sunday, six-week season of our life, we will explore further the life of a disciple through the lens of being part of a United Methodist Church. Through worship, group study & reflection, personal study, and other readings, we will discover the unbridled joy that comes from living a life of faith as faithful members of our church.
I do hope and pray you will prayerfully consider being part of this sacred time, not only through worshiping with us on Sunday mornings, but intentionally setting aside time for being part of one of the Sunday school classes or small groups that will gather to process this together.
One of the sacred tensions that is held in the writings of the New Testament is the understanding that, 
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
is just as important as,
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James2:26).
This tension is sacred because it not only points us to the reality that we do not save ourselves by our works, so we cannot take security in believing that we can look at what we've done as justification for receiving God's favor, but also points us to understanding that we cannot take comfort in knowing that as long as our hearts are right, we do not have to do anything else with our faith. In other words, being a member of a church is not the same as being a faithful disciple of Christ just as leading a life of doing good apart from an active life of faith is not a source of assurance and comfort.
The undeniable truth of the witness of the scriptures is that we are made to be people of faith because of God's great love shown to us in creation, personified in the life of Christ, and sustained by the work of the Holy Spirit. Parallel to this is the undeniable witness of the scriptures that the life of faith is not meant to be lived apart from active, vibrant involvement in the community of faith.
A Disciple's Path offers us all the chance to examine our bonds with Christ and His Church, to be inspired to deepen an already-bountiful trust with our Savior, or to find our way into (or back into) the life of being a disciple.
I look forward to walking alongside you on A Disciple's Path!
Grace and Peace, Lamar
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