This week we continue our series of blogs on discipleship.
In the cross-cultural mission world we have found that there are things which ALL people need to deal with in their discipleship and there are also things–a surprising number we find–that are variable. The stubborn tendency is to believe that the Western way of being a Christian is the right way. The Nineteenth Century is littered with Western cultural impositions upon non-Western Christians. We imposed everything from pews, harmoniums, and pulpits to deacons, archdeacons and church-wardens. More disturbingly perhaps we made polygamists divorce all their wives except the first thereby rejecting polygamy (a custom never condemned in the Bible) and imposed divorce (a “custom” roundly rejected in the Bible). Destitute women fell into poverty and prostitution.
Andrew Walls, the Scottish missionary historian describes the vast differences in the way Christianity has been expressed over the centuries. Sometimes it is difficult to see them as the same faith. However, they are. He shows how the gospel can be expressed in many different ways. These expressions begin with the contextually appropriate ways of being a disciple.
So what is the “right” way of being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Is there a right way? Or to put it another way, what are the constants–the elements that all people need to do as a Christian?
This week, starting tomorrow we will examine four “Greats” from the Gospel of Matthew, who is very concerned with the whole concept of discipleship. In fact the great South African missiologist, David Bosch, asserts that Matthew’s paradigm for mission is “Missionary Discipleship” (Transforming Mission, p. 79).