Discipleship: The Importance of Modeling

1 11 2012

I almost named this article the “Magical Muzungu”. A Muzungu, spell it however you like, is simply a person of european decent, meaning any white person. And that certainly applies to this American. This term has come to me many times. Tanzanians love visitors. They are considered a blessing. The further away you travel the more valued you are and the greater blessing to them. They are a hospitable people.

I say “Magical” because everywhere I go I can change things. It is my visitors status. Being white just makes me more identifiable as a visitor. Unfortunately because you are white they also think you are smart, rich and have the answers. At least that is the first thing that pops to mind. If you understand animism there is even much more to it than that. You see since you are successful you must have “it”. “It” is whatever the West has that makes them the envy of the third world. “It” is what every black person that has succeeded has. It is even assumed here, that Barack Obama got where he got because he connected with the right Muzungus. Or it is even possible that he also has discovered “IT”.

So what is the magic I exercise? When I model behavior the world stops and notices. On numerous occasions I have literally stopped the world around me and changed the behavior of perfect strangers. You can to. The first time it happened I was walking down Morogoro Avenue in Dar es Salaam. A car was driving along and someone had stolen the metal grate that covered the drain cover on the side of the street. Wham in goes his front tire and he goes all the way to the frame of his car. He hits the gas after realizing he is stuck. He tries to get out but only gets burning rubber and spinning tires. Everyone behind him begins to yell and honk. I watched a moment and realized that he just needed a little help. I went over and as he hit the gas I lifted up on the fender. Of course I was not strong enough but a funny thing happened. A half-dozen young men got out of their cars and we all lifted up and he drove away. Everyone was smiling, not honking and yelling. The second time was when a young man pushing a two-wheeled primitive cart in rush hour traffic could not get the momentum up to get up on the sidewalk. He was really loaded down. Again, I got into the harness area where he was working from and together we began to push. Again, other young porters stopped what they were doing and we all pushed him up. I could go on. This happens all the time.

I heard a story once I did not believe until I saw the special myself on TV. Elephants had been transported to a place in Africa where elephants no longer lived. They were trying to reintroduce them. Since the big guys are hard to move they moved only young males and then a variety of females. Much easier to deal with. But after a few months rhinos started to be killed. At first they thought it was poachers. But no horns were removed. It was as if they were crushed. Finally, rangers put on night goggles and began to observe the rhinos. Mystery, solved. The young males were coming up to the rhinos, blind in the dark, and knocking them over and literally stomping them to death. This had never been recorded as being reserved in history. What to do. They went back and studied the situation and someone said this never happened so lets return the elephants to their natural scenario. No, not take them back but let’s get an adult male and introduce him. They went and got a real grandaddy. Huge, one broken tusk and scars from battle. They worked hard to capture and transport him and it was like fighting and winning a war just to get him there. But sure enough, after he arrived the killings stopped. The young males needed another male to model proper elephant behavior.

I have preached about helping the poor here but everyone nods their head and does nothing. I can preach about making disciples and everyone agrees it is the right thing to do. I can talk about house churches and it seems like a good idea. I can wish someone would help that old lady and I am sure many would agree. But until I get into the salt flats and begin to haul salt with her in the scalding water, it is just a good idea. Until I stop to push the cart up the curb it is only a nice notion. However, once I put my hands to the cart things begin to change. Once I put my hands to the fender, though I am just a 56-year-old average guy. miracles begin to happen.

Likewise, until we model the things we preach we are only using a small part of God’s arsenal. Paul could tell Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 to teach what he had taught to other men so that they could teach others and get results because that is what Timothy observed. I heard a story about a rich guy one time that loved the Lord sharing with his other rich buddies. He told them he had read a lot about the biblical position in the New Testament about riches. And he had come to the conclusion that he needed to divest himself of his silly excessive life and give to the poor for the Kingdom. His buddies said something I like. “You first”. Well, he decided they were right. He went first. After he modeled the kingdom lifestyle of laying up treasures in heaven and giving to the poor, widows and orphans around him all of his friends were set free to do the same. Someone in your life is waiting for you to go first. For you to begin to share about Jesus and His Kingdom. For you to seriously change your lifestyle for Jesus and the “least of these”. Someone else is waiting on you to quit drinking and being double minded about your Christianity. Someone else is waiting for you to get out of your comfort zone and lay down your life for Jesus in an area that is the last place your friends would go.

That is true discipleship. Modeling and doing what Jesus said. And that man, the one that is a doer and not only a hearer of the word is building his life on the rock. Those that only hear and do not do what Jesus said are building on the sand. One will ultimately stand. The other fall and great will be that fall. Let us model what Jesus said. Don’t listen to the theologians who tell you at every command of Jesus, “that’s not what Jesus really meant” or “that was for them in the early church not for today”, “don’t worry about that brother, just believe, that is all that Jesus wants”. I decided that these statements are lies from hell. I decided that Jesus meant every word He said. I read in John 12:47-50 where Jesus says His teaching came straight from the Father and on judgement day we would be judged by them and decided to let the theologians say all the wanted to. I was going with what Jesus said. I hope you will to.

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3 responses

1 11 2012
Marc

In our community in Kenya, our neighbor’s house fell down and he began the task of building anew. No one from the community helped. Me and my boys began to help and then several people came to help and we finished the house that day. The neighbor confronted one of the helpful neighbors and said “the only reason you are here helping is because the mzungu is here.” It was true!

1 11 2012
gokingdom

People need others to model Kingdom behavior. Just talking wont get it done. Preaching and obedience to the message is Gods powerful plan. Discipleship, modeled by the disciple maker is discipleship that will reproduce.

6 11 2012
Alice Stanback

JAS 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
JAS 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
JAS 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

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