By Dan Weiss
As we draw near to Holy Week and Easter Sunday, we would do well to reflect on the life of Jesus. But it might also be of great value to consider the example of His disciples.
Throughout the Gospels we can see this group of 12 men who left everything to follow Jesus. The stories are filled with mistakes, betrayal, victories, miracles and kinship. These men spent several years learning from and becoming more like the Son of God. Surely there were distractions, but in the accounts we read we can see their focus on the one person who they believed held the key to eternal life.
For those of us today who consider ourselves disciples of Jesus, how do our lives compare to those original 12 disciples?
In the most recent episode of We All Need Each Other, Pastor Ryan Flemming mentioned the discipleship that is occurring, and needs to occur, as the members of the Body of Christ engage with social media. When we consider the amount of time we spend on various social media platforms, does it exceed our time of focused attention to Jesus? Do we spend more time scrolling than we do reading and meditating on Scripture? Do we pray as much as we watch YouTube?
I'm not suggesting that the acts of reading Scripture and praying are the only measures of one's discipleship. I believe each person's journey with Jesus is unique. However, it is reasonable to ask the question of how much time we spend on earthly things compared to eternal things.
In the wake of last week's deadly shootings in Atlanta, Christianity Today published an article written by Jason Dees, a pastor in Atlanta. In the article, Dees addresses the topic of who/what is discipling us:
Whenever people leave the worship service or their small group, whenever they close their Bibles, they are immediately inundated with social media and communication broadcasting another narrative.
They are being discipled by their workplaces, the friends in their community, and their news feeds. Pastors can assume their congregation is inundated with those outside influences, but they also have to be asking what messages their people are taking in.
Dees focuses much of his attention on the pastor's role in the lives of his/her congregants, and that's also where much of Flemming's attention was as he pondered the issue on We All Need Each Other. It is something pastors must take seriously, but since most of us aren't pastors, what is our responsibility?
I believe we should regularly take inventory of what is receiving our attention and the influences we're allowing into our lives. I am certainly guilty of allowing social media to be the dominant voice of influence, as well as the main recipient of my attention. When I allow such earthly things to occupy so much space in my life, it shouldn't surprise me that I look at the world with earthly, temporal eyes.
However, during this Lenten season, I have intentionally reduced my intake of social media, as well as my participation in my preferred platforms. At times, I've experienced the fear of missing out. After all, my main source of national and world news is social media. At other times, I've experienced a feeling of increased freedom to focus my attention on the things that really matter to me - time with Jesus, my family, enjoying nature, etc.
If we take an honest inventory of who/what is discipling us, do we need to make a course correction or are we on the right path? The answer can change often, so the regular practice of self reflection and evaluation is itself a vital part of our discipleship that we should not neglect.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2
Dan Weiss is the Director of Operations at Transformation Ministries and the host of We All Need Each Other.