Part II of our series on Preparation
There are three phrases that describe how discipleship might look in any given church today:
Specialist. Generalist. Hot mess.
Let’s start with hot mess. The highly esteemed urban dictionary defines hot mess as “a derogatory term describing a situation, behavior, appearance, etc. that is disastrously bad.”
Hot mess discipleship means no discipleship.
Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s the idea of church as a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous gathering—like a Sinners Anonymous. At AA people stand up and say, “Hi, my name is Such-And-Such and I’m an alcoholic.” In hot mess discipleship, the Christian shows up at church and it’s as if they say, “Hi, my name is Such-And-Such, and I’m a sinner. I was born a sinner, I’m a sinner now, and I’ll be a sinner when I die. Christ being in my life means I’m no different, but I am forgiven.”
It’s absolutely true that we’re sinners, but the Scripture’s identity of choice for us is saints. It’s how we get addressed in all the letters in the New Testament. “To the saints.” It doesn’t say “To the sinners” and that’s because it does make a difference that Christ lives in us.
We’re more than forgiven; we’re being transformed.
And the Scriptures lay out soldier imagery for us:
- The Word of God is a two edged sword.
- We put on the armor of God.
- We take captive every thought.
- We have work to do.
We don’t have time to wallow in our sin. Our calling is not to sin and then get forgiven. It’s to carry out the vocation of redeemed humanity: Mirroring the image of Christ to the world. We’ll fall short and sin along the way, and when we do, we repent of it, confess it, receive his pardon, and get back in the fight.
We’re not just trophies of grace, old drunk uncles always needing to be picked up out of the gutter by our good nephew Jesus. We’re his mighty warriors. He has work for us to do. Grace-empowered work. Supernatural work. But change is underway in us, and we’re not who we were yesterday.
In our next post, we’ll look at the very popular discipleship method of training specialists…and why we shouldn’t.
What other negative results does “hot mess discipleship” produce in the Church?