He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty
– Luke 1:52-53
Discipleship is a big word in the Christian faith. It covers a lot of ground – what it means to each of us will be as unique as our own faith journey. For me, it means following in the way of Jesus, living out a calling to witness to God in all aspects of our life, and actively learning and growing in our faith from teaching, scripture, and the world around us.
The Example of Jesus
One of the main callings I see in the life of Jesus is to live our lives in a way that demonstrates the value, beauty and dignity of each and every person we share this world with, and the worth of the world itself as an expression of God in creation. And the way I see Jesus doing that is through seeking justice.
It is very easy to find examples of Jesus directly helping and healing those he meets who are poor and marginalised; healing a man with leprosy, healing the woman suffering haemorrhages, casting out demons, curing the blind. But what Jesus also does is challenge the social structures that cause these people to be cast out of society in the first place. He challenges prejudice by sharing food with tax collectors and prostitutes, who well-to-do folk would usually avoid like the plague (Luke 19:1-10). He warns the rich that they can’t fulfil the will of God until they share their good fortune with those who need it (Mark 10:17-27). He teaches his disciples to live simply (Luke 10:4), to walk through life humbly, and to share their things in common (Acts 2:44), all of which create a community which is set up so that nobody is oppressed or needy; this is a vision for a community with justice at its heart.
I often wonder what these things would look like were Jesus to live among us today. Who would he invite to dinner? What would he ask us to give up in order to help those in need? How would we as disciples share things in common? Which social inequalities would we be invited to join him in challenging? These are just some of the questions we as disciples of Christ are called to ask ourselves; and then, with the help of God and hearts full of hope, to join in the creation of a just and loving society.