Discipleship. It is a word the church has bandied about so often that we’ve used up almost all of its value and meaning. No one seems to know what it means for liberal Christians to be disciples. The poet Robert Frost once defined a liberal as a person too broad-minded to take their own side.
It is true that liberals value things like pluralism, tolerance, and diversity. So how can a liberal be a disciple of Jesus? What would that look like?
Gustave Doré was a world famous 19th-century illustrator. Although he illustrated more than 200 books, some with more than 400 drawings, he is best known for his illustrations to “The Divine Comedy,” particularly “The Inferno,” and his illustrations for Don Quixote and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”
The great illustrator was wandering one day in the mountains of Switzerland when border officials came upon him and demanded a passport. “I don’t have it with me,” the artist replied, “but my name is Gustave Doré.”
Knowing who Doré was, but not certain that the wandering man was telling the truth, the officials demanded that he prove his identity. After a moment’s hesitation, the artist took paper and a pencil from his backpack and began to sketch a group of peasants standing nearby.
Looking over his shoulder, the officer said, “Enough. No question; you are Doré.”
The truth is most folks are sick to death of people who say that they are Christians. Every politician now wears their religion as a badge. What people are desperate for is a person whose lifestyle identifies them as a disciple of Jesus. Maybe this weekend would be a good time to experiment with what it would take for someone to recognize us as ones who follow the way of Jesus.