I began commenting on Joshua 3 a few blogs ago with some discussion about the iconic show, “Star Trek.”  I said that the journey into the Promised Land – like the journey of all discipleship – is to move into a place where “no one has gone before.”

Well, for the discipleship trek, that’s not exactly true.  As we move forward as disciples, engaging the world as missional Christians, we know that Almighty God has already gone on ahead of us!

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  As they traveled from place, being prepared by Almighty God for the task of taking possession of the Promised Land, they followed the “Ark of the Covenant.”  If you never heard of the Ark in Sunday School, you might remember it from the first “Indiana Jones” movie.

The ark was the vehicle in which the ‘covenant’ between God and they was stored.  It symbolized God’s presence among his people.   By following the Ark the people were engaged in a march of faith that took the people from wandering in the wilderness into the occupation of the Promised Land.   Following the Ark was an acknowledgement by the people that they needed God–that they were dependent on God.

When the people crossed the Jordon River, ceasing their wilderness wandering and entering the Promised Land, they did so by following the Ark.  They went with the faith that God was moving forward ahead of them.

I am reminded of the encounter Jesus’ followers had at the tomb on the day of Resurrection.  The two angelic messengers said, “Why are you searching for the living among the dead.  He is not here.  He has risen.  He has gone on ahead of your to Galilee.”

In Christ, Jesus has gone ahead of the disciples, leading them into the mission they had been called to engage.

At the occasion of his ascension, Jesus said, “Wait in Jerusalem until you receive power from on high.”  Then, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit invaded the place where the disciples were assembled and filled the lives of those disciples. 

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to empower and guide the disciples into the mission they had been called to engage.

These stories together remind me of one of the most significant truth about discipleship that we could ever learn.  Discipleship is not a matter of living FOR God, but FROM God.  We are not called to do anything FOR God, but to FOLLOW God, living FROM the strength and resource God has provided.  In short, discipleship means FOLLOWING – which means the one we follow has already taken the lead. 

We go to a church building to prayer, worship, study, and fellowship.  We do not go to a church building to be a disciple.  That happens in the world.  The good news is that God is already out there at work in the world.

God is on the streets with the homeless.  God is in the nursing home with the elderly.  God is in the hospital room with the sick.  God is with the family who has lost all its belonging in a fire.  God is with the victim of crime – and with the criminal who committed that crime.  God is in the home where there is marital strife.  God is with the drunk, the addict, and the prostitute, because God loves them all and Jesus came to redeem us all.

Father God plan of redemption is underway in the world today.  “God so loved the world!”  Following Jesus means realizing that he has led the way into the highways and byways of the community in which we live.  The Holy Spirit has given us all we need to follow Jesus in the world – the strength, wisdom, power, and guidance.

The journey may be to a place where “no man/woman has gone before,” but that does not mean it is uncharted territory.  Our triune God has led the way and is waiting for us there.    The missional call and been declared.

In my favorite of the “Star Trek” television shows, Captain John-Luc Picard would instruct the navigator to set in a new destination.  Once the destination and course was laid in, Captain Picard would raise his hand in the air, point it forward, and give the command:  “Engage!”

God is leading the way into a world he loves and has acted to redeem.  We are called to bring the message of God’s love and redemption to those who have never heard or not yet believed.  The destination is before us and the course is laid in.  Here, now, the command of Almighty God.


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