Practicing the Way of Jesus: The Jesus Dojo

'Karate - IMG_0578' photo (c) 2011, N i c o l a - license:
So, we're looking at Mark Scandrette's book, Practicing the Way of Jesus for our discipleship group. It's in the very first chapter that he really got my attention for what it missing in contemporary discipleship and what we need to replace it.

So many of us want to live in the way of Jesus--pursuing a life that is deeply soulful, connected to our real needs, and good news to our world. Yet too often our methods of spiritual formation are individualistic, information driven or disconnected from the details of everyday life. We simply are not experiencing the kind of transformation that is the historically expected result of the Christ phenomenon. If Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated and taught a revolutionary way of love that is actually possible, alive with healing and hope, then we need a path for experiencing that revolution in the details of our daily lives. Simply put, I believe we need to recover a sense of immediacy and action in our spiritual practices. Perhaps what we need is a path for discipleship that is more like a karate studio than a lecture hall. (14)

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Obviously, Wesley's class meetings and the current practice of Covenant Discipleship comes to mind. Also the new monasticism that is embodied in the work of Shane Claiborne or Elaine Heath. But, where I've always struggled is, outside of having to go join up with a group of like-minded monastics in some inner-city mission, how do we incorporate this into the life of the church today. I'm hoping Scandrette helps.

He says this is like Jesus teaching in a karate dojo. In a karate dojo, people don't just sit at the feet of the master with a textbook in hand, learning all the facts about karate.& Instead, they do it.

You can't learn karate just by watching, and we can't learn to follow Jesus without practicing to do what he did and taught. Jesus didn't just communicate information or ideas, but declared "I am the way" and invited his disciples into a new life that was fueled and inspired by his example, teachings and sacrifice (John 14:6).... So a Jesus dojo is a space where a group of people wrestles with how to apply the teachings of Jesus to everyday life through shared actions and practices. (p. 16)

We'd like to have that space. We need to have that space. For it's in that space that the proverbial rubber meets the road and discipleship happens to change lives.

That's what's at heart here. Those of us who say we're following Jesus, should really live our lives in a different way. At the end of the day, we need to say that following Jesus made a difference in our lives today...that it mattered. People are skeptical of faith that isn't exhibited in life and, for much of the church, me included, there has been a disconnect between what we say we believe about Jesus and what our lives look like. There hasn't been much of a "Jesus-Shape" to our lives.

Knowing the transformational promise of the gospel, it is fair to ask whether a person who claims to have a relationship with Jesus exhibits more peace and less stress, handles crisis with more grace, experiences less fear and anxiety, manifests more joy, is overcoming anger and their addictions or compulsions, lives more consciously or loves more boldly. (14)

It is fair to ask this. It is fair to ask if life is different because you are madly in love with the Jesus who first loved us. And, if it's not, then it's fair to explore how it is that life can be different.

That's what our new group is exploring.

In a twist of the Apple Computer marketing phrase, we don't just want to "Think Different," we want to "Live Different."