Today’s world is a marvel. You can work remotely, and even get married remotely! You can earn a college degree without ever getting dressed or leaving your bedroom or dealing with a fellow student or being face to face with a professor! Banking is done remotely. Bills are paid remotely. Travel arrangements are done remotely. Grocery shopping can be done remotely. And, of course, there’s the miracle of the online mega-mall with guaranteed next day delivery! Remote rocks! The pinnacle of convenience achieved!

Pity Jesus’ poor disciples! They were obligated to live with him every day for 3½ years! They were stuck being incessantly within embracing distance of the Lover of their Souls, sharing meals and jokes and traveling all around Judea, frequently with Jesus’ arm around their shoulders. They had to watch innumerable miracles, had to listen to his wild Kingdom stories, see his signature grin, tolerate his knowing looks (was that love in there?), and accept his forgivenesses. And then there were all those times Jesus decided they would get away, just the thirteen of them, to hang out together. No agenda, just time to be together. Oh, the cross that was theirs to bear!

So, to the subject of 21st Century discipleship. For many, it’s a private affair requiring no talking to others, no participating in religious gatherings (certainly no churches involved!), just something that is kept to themselves, quietly, personally. For others, discipleship is accomplished by church attendance at Christmas and Easter (phew!), or, at most, on Sunday mornings, as long as the preach doesn’t interfere with the golf game that afternoon. For others still, discipleship includes a never-ending slog of demanding church activities, but which leaves little time for family or rest or much else, for that matter.

I have a strong suspicion, however (despite the tongue-in-cheek tone of my above paragraph) that discipleship remains essentially unchanged over these twenty-one Centuries. It still involves a lot of learning and even more unlearning. It involves being transformed, inside and out, by the ongoing, redeeming presence of the Holy Spirit. It still requires Scripture reading (a rich source of our information about the upside Kingdom that invites us). It still involves getting to know, on a one-to-one basis, this Jesus, who gave his all for us. And, perhaps most importantly, it still involves a depth of heart-to-heart relationship which, by its very definition, can’t be accomplished remotely. Hmm. Maybe remote everything isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ll gladly choose to embrace your messiness and inconvenience. Will you embrace mine?  PD

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