Happy New Year 幸せな新しい年

Happy New Year. Really let’s have a happy new year.
2014 may have been a great year for some. Many shared their lives with me throughout the year and I can safely say that for many 2014 was arguably one of the worst years on record. So how can we make sure that 2015 really is a happy. new. year?

Refer to this week’s church mail, 2 key verses:
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14)
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” (Psalm 105:5)

So one of the keys to living happily is knowing when and what to forget and knowing when and what to remember. 幸せに暮らす秘訣の一つは、いつ何を忘れ、いつ何を覚えておくかを知ることです。
There are some things – they may be good or bad – that take our heart away from God. Either good things that make us proud or bad things that make us bitter. Forget them. Leave them behind and move on. Don’t tuck them away for later. Don’t just try to dim the memory.
Forget them.
There are other things – they may be good or bad – that draw us closer to God.
Sins or hurts that remind us of our need for God’s mercy and grace, or good things that encourage us in our walk with God. Remember them.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil 4:8
(The key to forgetting and remembering is to think of such things.) Vision ビジョン
Be careful of vision. God has given us His vision and often the vision of church leaders is just the vision of men.
The general vision of God always supersedes the specific vision of church leaders.

The general visions of Acts 2 and Matthew 28 should shape everything we believe and do as individuals and as a church:

Acts 2 v 42
2 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Matthew 28:19,20
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

It’s this general vision that I would like us to base our specific communal vision for our church this year: discipleship 弟子訓練
By focussing on discipleship, I believe we will become more knowledgeable, more mature, more successful, more compassionate, more effective and more joyful people.

There are four aspects of discipleship that I would like us to focus on throughout the year:
• looking like Jesus (character), イエスのようになる
• receiving like Jesus (equipping) イエスのように受ける
• doing like Jesus (behaviour and lifestyle), and イエスのように行う
• liking Jesus イエスを好きになる

‘Looking like Jesus’ means that we take on and develop the same character (“communicable attributes”) of Jesus. イエスのようになるとは、イエスと同じ性格を身につけるということです。
Mental attributes – knowledge, wisdom, truth
Moral attributes – goodness, love, mercy, holiness, righteousness, peace etc Purpose attributes – will, freedom, power

‘Receiving like Jesus’ means that we are Spirit-led. We move and act in God’s power, not our own. Jesus didn’t begin His ministry until He was baptised. He told the disciples to wait for ministry until they were baptised with power. We need to be equipped to live effectively and joyfully as Christians, and discipleship involves learning how to receive.

‘Doing like Jesus’ takes the mental, moral and purpose-based qualities within us, and sees them manifest in our lives. It takes the equipping we have received and uses it.
As the song says, “Jesus on the inside, working on the outside – oh, what a change in my life!” Living as Jesus lived means not only that we function in a Christlike way, but that our very lives are testimonies of deliverance. Our very lives – in the home, in the workplace, in the church, in the community – become stories of triumph and glory. That sounds big – and it is big (I don’t use such lofty words lightly) – but that is the life that we are called to.

Finally, ‘liking Jesus’. This might sound a little odd, but I want you to stay with me on this one. This is the most important part of discipleship of all. Look at this passage:

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
John 21:15-17

I don’t want to read too much into this, but it’s interesting that the first two times Jesus uses the word ‘love’ he uses a word that implies a great, sacrificial love. The biggest kind of love. The fullest sense. The third time, however, He uses a different word for love which in some ways is a narrower form of love and has more to do with affection. I wonder if the first two times Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him in the fullest sense, but the third time He’s simply asking, ‘Peter, do you like me?’

Again, I don’t want to read too much into the text but there is something here for us to remember when we’re looking at discipleship. Discipleship is not just about knowing and receiving and following and obeying. Discipleship is ultimately about loving Jesus – loving Him in the fullest sense, and loving Him in the affectionate sense of really liking Jesus. Liking getting to to know Him, liking spending time with Him, liking becoming like Him, liking living for and with Him. Liking Him. Enjoying Him. That is the essence of discipleship.