We hear a lot these days about “intentional discipleship” from preachers, motivational speakers and writers about what it takes to be real Christians in these times. These speakers highlight for us the increasing secularism of American life, namely, that the modern mind-set is intent on pushing away a religious tone to life as evident in state and federal legislation that advances freedoms beyond that which the scriptures would countenance, or the lifestyles of people we know and love, matched with decreasing numbers attending church or synagogue or mosque. We Americans believe in God to large percentage even though our actions may not always clearly represent that belief.
We are aware, as strident Christians have always been aware these two thousand years, that the popular culture presses up against us in ways religious belief and lifestyle cannot endorse. We are faced daily with choices and decisions none too easy to make. Political and religious leadership sometimes don’t help to model us citizens with their decisions and law making and lifestyles. Even our children and grandchildren make choices opposite the way we have reared them. What to do? Pray fervently and daily, certainly. In the meantime:
Intentional discipleship means that we take the message of Jesus Christ seriously and apply it to our lives to the best of our ability without equivocation while encouraging others to do the same. This is evangelization. We stake our lives on the gospel vision of life. We have lived the gospel all our lives and find consolation in its truth. We are so convinced of this we had our children baptized in this faith. We practice this faith day-in-and-day-out. The vision and message of Christ shows itself in our homes, the way we live, the way we spend our money and give some of it away, the way we assess and comment on current events some indeed tragic. Gospel truth shows itself in our devotion to our spouses and children, our charity and forgiveness of others, our managerial relationship with others, our choices at the ballot box and the counsel we give others.
Indeed, nothing is worthwhile unless we do it intentionally and with fervor as upright Christians. This is the manner in which Jesus lived and died for us. It is the only way his disciples can live authentically his legacy.
Bishop Joseph N. Perry