Elephants and Discipleship

Image borrowed from www.nhm.org
Image borrowed from http://www.nhm.org

I came across an interesting article the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The article was talking about a public television special about elephants.

In an attempt to thin out the local herd, the authorities killed off a number of the older males and moved a group of females and young bulls to another area. Before long, white rhinos in that area were being killed, not by poachers, but by the young bulls who were trying to prove their elephant-manliness. One elephant even organized a gang of fellow delinquents and began leading attacks against tourist buses.

The authorities shot some of the troublemakers but then came up with a better solution.

They released a few old males from another area into the troubled neighborhood. The older males immediately began to bring the young bulls into line. They took them on in tusking matches and bested them. They didn’t shed any blood or harm them. They just deflated their pride and taught them that you don’t have to kill rhinos to prove you’re an elephant, just play the majestic role God has assigned to you. Peace soon returned to that part of the bush.

Christian discipleship is a lot like that.

  • You don’t ever become a maturing Christian in isolation.
  • We need people who model what faithfulness looks like.

How do Christians learn how to trust God when things are hard? How do Christians learn to give and serve even when they are in need and hurting? How do Christians learn to live with joy even in the midst of suffering?

All these things are learned as we observe more mature Christians living out the Christian faith through the highs and lows of life.

One final note, this is the reason why the Little Church on the Prairie intentionally is intergenerational in our ministries. We believe we learn better how to live out the Christian faith when the generations live the faith together.

Easter Reflections on Death and the Resurrection

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 9.46.27 PMDeath has always freaked people out.

The death of Jesus was no different. Mary and the disciples were there. No matter what they hoped for on that Passover night, the enemy that had consumed all humanity since the beginning of time would claim its latest victim on that afternoon of Good Friday.

  • Jesus died.
  • They were there.
  • They saw it with their own eyes.
  • The death of Jesus was indisputable, undeniable, irrefutable.

Just as death had always done, death won on that Friday afternoon and claimed its prize…death had swallowed up Jesus.

  • Jesus died.
  • They were there.
  • They saw it with their own eyes.
  • The death of Jesus was indisputable, undeniable, irrefutable.

I remember the first time I saw death. I was in Jr. High school when I went to my first funeral.

I couldn’t articulate it. I knew Christians were promised eternal life. I knew that Christ had won the victory. I knew that death shouldn’t scare me. But it did.

Staring at death face to face was eerie. I didn’t like it. Truth be told, death scared me.

Of course, this is nothing new. Human beings have always dreaded and feared death. Because death is a harsh reminder of our finite-ness…of our common end.

Death is always the end.

To say that death is un-natural is kind of stupid. Everyone we know, everyone that’s ever been, everyone that ever will be dies.

Yet we live as if death were un-natural. And we’re surprised, taken aback when death does indeed come.

Because of unknown-ness of death, societies have removed death as far away from daily life as possible. Ancient cities even built places far removed from daily life to house the dead – necropolis – the city of the dead.

Death always wins.

Death always claims its victim.

Until that day after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

That day, resurrection day, on that Easter morn, the tomb could no longer hold what it had always held.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it…

The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Jesus out for he was already gone. The stone was rolled away so that Mary and the disciples could see that the tomb was empty!

You see, he is risen! He is risen indeed!

And just like that. Death no longer reigns supreme.

Just like that. To all who declare with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead, they too will never die but have eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Just like that. The curse of death is broken.

All because of what happened “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week…” (Matthew 28:1)