Spiritus Christi: Conflict & Discipleship

The following below is from a newsletter in the USA which references @tweetinMark.  I met Michael and Lynne Boucher when they were out for the Parliament of World Religions late last year and was so very inspired by the truly amazing journey of their church in Rochester, NY, which is now known as “Spiritus Christi’. That he so humbly grapples with the query in the piece below was challenging to me because if there is one church I can think of that have had to deal with discipleship conflict strategically it is this one.  Gender, sexuality, church hierarchy etc, etc…. click here to read a pdf of their dramatic journey…


While I was in Melbourne last December, I was able to meet up with a friend of Ched Myers named Marcus Curnow.  Marcus works for a place called the Urban Seed in Melbourne .[1] In its own words, the Urban Seed “is a Christian based organisation that prioritises and assists marginalised people while developing broader, supportive communities in the city of Melbourne and throughout Victoria .” In common parlance, they are trying to be disciples by exercising a preferential option for the poor.

One of Marcus’ current initiatives is a bible study on the gospel of Mark through Tweeter.  (Yes, you heard right).  Folks gather each week to study scripture on the gritty streets of Melbourne and Marcus tweets insights and challenges that come alive in the scriptures.  Just this past week, one of his tweets was,

“’Withdrew’ suggests Jesus knows about death threat in Mk 3:6 & is strategic. Wot conflicts ru strategically immersed in due 2 discipleship?”

The question hit me like a ton of bricks.  “What conflicts are you strategically immersed in due to your discipleship?”  What conflicts are you strategically immersed in due to your discipleship?

Notice that the questions doesn’t say, “Are you immersed…” It assumes that we are and asks which ones! And it asks which ones we are strategically immersed in – meaning there’s a plan!

So which ones are you strategically involved with due to your discipleship?  What do you engage in or withdraw from because of how you read the Scriptures?  Who are you hanging around or moving away from because of your discipleship?  These questions and others start to become where the rubber hits the road.

Now mind you, these do not have to be grand and earth shattering things.  Perhaps we care for an elderly family member every day or check in on a friend when we could be doing something else because Jesus told us to “Love one another” and we take that seriously.  Perhaps we try to give away money to the poor or other charities because Jesus warned us against storing up treasure for ourselves.  Maybe we try to live out a particular calling or ministry (perhaps that others do not understand) because Jesus told us that keeping a light under a bushel basket is useless.

But on the other hand, our faith must call us to more than we already are or what we are already doing.  Jesus finds us where we are and invites us into what’s next for us.  He knows our edges and brings us there.  And we’re not always ready like the man in Mark 10.  Jesus sees that he is living out the call of the kingdom and says to him, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor..then come follow me.”  The gospel tells us that “at that statement the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

Richard Rohr reminds us also that what’s next for us isn’t always about material possessions (although in this culture, we probably always need to keep an eye on that…).  What’s next can have a lot to do with our “spiritual and intellectual goods,” namely, our superior self-image, pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, intellectual snobbishness, classism, and racism.  Maybe what’s next for us is about slowing down, loving those around us more deeply, noticing beauty in our midst, etc.

In the 12-Step traditions, it is often said that we must change “people, places and things” in order to recover from addiction.  Discipleship is probably not that much different.  Jesus calls us to be around new people, new places and new things, to take risks for our faith in him and to avoid acting like the powers of the world.  But if we do not take time to reflect on what we’re doing, we’re not too likely to change.  That’s where Marcus’ word “strategically” becomes so crucial.  We must think through our discipleship and set a course – which will bring us into conflicts with other powers in this world.  Those may be political and economic powers.  Those may be the powers of other people’s expectations of us.  Those may be the powers of trying to do too much.  Those may be the powers of silencing who we are and what we know.  But the conflicts are inevitable.

Michael Boucher has played various ministry roles in social work and  adult education.  He writes the monthly “Guidelines” newsletter for Spiritus Christi.