We believe that everyone should be involved in discipleship and is welcomed in to being a disciple by Jesus. Discipleship without diversity is not a true reflection of God’s Kingdom. In this blog Alex looks at how discipleship and diversity are intrinsically linked.
1. I am Walking
Jesus calls us to be ourselves. ‘Authenticity’ is a buzz word which many hate, and many love. But, ultimately, it is the calling to discipleship. Jesus calls people into relationship with each-other, but only after transforming the self. Changing names, like Peter’s, changing hearts, like Zacchaeus’s, changing relationships, like Mary and Martha’s. Jesus is an agent of powerful change that starts from within. If we are called to celebrate diversity, we must start by accepting and celebrating ourselves, despite and even because of our imperfections. You are loved by, and called to walk with, the one who meets us on the way.
2. They are Walking
Jesus calls us to walk with ‘others’ who are radically different from us. He doesn’t call his disciples to follow a list of rules. Rather, he calls them, God calls us, to fish for people. In Jesus’s day, the ‘others’ were tax collectors, prostitutes, women, the physically and mentally unwell, the polyamorous… Who do we ‘other today’? Who does Jesus call us to walk with today? Perhaps we ought to start with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer folk who are turned away from the closed church doors, bullied, assaulted, marginalised, criminalised, and even murdered in many places throughout the world… Jesus us calls us to walk with, and learn from, all people, especially those who are different from us.
3. We are Walking
We are called to walk as one. Unity in diversity is a key tenant of the Christian faith. No-one should be alone here. Jesus calls us into relationship. God’s reign is close at hand when people with wildly different identities and viewpoints talk and laugh and cry together. Jesus’s Spirit is in the conversations that bridge gaps of understanding. The journey of discipleship is not a solitary discipline. Rather, we are called to meet each-other on the way.
4. Walking with Love
We are called to walk with love. Hate is never acceptable. Love does not mean to tell people how to behave. Love does not mean to convert everyone to one understanding of God or of life. Love does not mean to be nice to oppressors. Rather, love means to behave in ways that liberate the oppressed. Love means to tell our stories openly. Love means to break the chains of empire. We are called to walk with, in, and through love.
God give us the courage to love ourselves, so that we might love everyone we meet. God give us the compassion to love those who hate themselves, so that they might know their own beauty. God give us the resilience to speak the truth in love, tearing down the walls that divide and conquer. God give us the wisdom to act, rather than to merely speak, to embrace, rather than to merely tolerate, and to love rather than to merely accept. May it be so, Amen.
Revd. Alex Clare-Young (they/them) is a minister of the United Reformed Church and a member of the Iona Community. Alex is passionate about people and uses their experience as a transmasculine person to advocate for trans and non-conforming people and to help communities to process change. Alex is currently undertaking doctoral research exploring theology with trans/non-conforming people and is serving as Community Leader of Peter’s House. Alex lives in Scarborough with their wife, Revd. Jo, and their dog Digger.