?> Where There's Smoke, There's Fire | almost an M

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire


iStock_000004150295XSmallIt was a cookout. And I don’t mean the pretty kind on a gas grill in a backyard by a pool. It was just inside a dense forest outside a major urban center in Eastern Europe. There was fire, smoke, mosquitoes, mud, fallen trees used for seats…. There was no toilet, though there was (smile). No place to wash hands. Those who started the fire, both believers and non, had mud and rust and ash on their hands. Those who prepared the meat–one a believer for years, the other for days–had fat and marinade from the wrists down. All had clothes that smelled of smoke. All had a full sensory experience of the meat cooking, sizzling, and in places burning. All shared from the skewers as the meat was ready to be eaten. Some slightly burned their hands and mouths as they ate the meat that had just come off the coals. All could hear the birds singing and the passing of traffic just a quarter mile away. It was real. It was a wonderful time of being together!

Though our outing was not planned for this reason, I was reminded of Jesus’ time with His disciples at the end of His days on Earth. He cooked for them on a campfire. His clothes had to smell of smoke. Surely there was ash and the strong scent of fish on his hands. The subsitutionary lawn chairs were probably the ground or maybe some stones. For added ambience, it appears fish were probably flopping around on the ground. It was real. (John 21)

This was discipleship. It didn’t happen in a classroom. He didn’t hold conferences. What did He do? He walked with His disciples. They walked with dirty, dusty feet together. He ate with His disciples. They encountered both adoring crowds as well as angry religious leaders together. They lived life together. Jesus didn’t teach them about His heart for the lost until after they had repeatedly seen it lived out by Him. Then He sent them out. Then He returned to the Father. John shared that they had seen, heard, and touched Him. It was real. John challenged that if we are going to say “I know him,” then we must “walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 1-2)

This entry is not a call to roughing it, nor is it a challenge to ban gas grills (though I do prefer the charcoal variety for flavor). I am not calling for the halt of conferences. This is, hopefully, the beginning of a conversation about what discipleship is….

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  1. michael says:

    Discipleship through life-on-life organic relationships are often messy, often troubled, sometimes harmonious, but when they are found among Jesus’ followers you can see his richness, beauty, power and fullness.

  2. Grady Bauer says:

    Great story….this is the way discipleship should be done. While in the US some of my best discipleship moments happened in a gazebo, playing Risk, smoking cigars…the time was authentic and life changing. Much better than a conference!

  3. Jeff says:

    I don’t know guys, seems like sitting in a circle in a SS class with people who are just like me is really the best way to go…

    Souls must rub souls. Salt that sits in the shaker never seasons anything.

  4. C. Holland says:

    I suppose a conference can have an “agenda” feel. I’ve found that, in spending time with others, the spiritual questions will eventually come up from non-believers, removing the “agenda” feel.

  5. rodney calfee says:

    Eloquently written. I love the intrinsic beauty and power of narrative. This is a stunning image that portrays discipleship in its raw form- indeed messy, and relationally grounded, with the outcome Christ intended-

    Luke 6
    40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

    Thank you, as well, for the loving perspective with which you framed your thoughts, not excluding those who love the conferences. We walk a thin line within the church deciphering between Gospel and method, and so much of the conversation (often argument) is over secondary issues that have no bearing on the Gospel. I guess that’s really for a different post, though…

    Enjoy the camping trip!

  6. adminsmile says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Rodney. And a huge YES to Luke 6:40. That’s discipleship….

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