Discpipleship (i.e. following Jesus) in America is changing. Growing up in my hometown, to follow Jesus meant in part going to church twice on Sunday, memorizing and reciting passages of Scripture, and not cursing (which are not inherently bad things). Most Christian traditions still lean on two sacraments essential to being a follower of Jesus: baptism and communion/Lord's Supper/Eucharist. But in an era where 1/3 of the world lives on $2 or less a day and where in America the unnerving waves of the economic downturn get closer to our own two feet everyday, followers of Jesus are being forced to answer the question "Does your faith in Jesus translate into hope for the world?"
In ReJesus, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch posit that what we need today perhaps more than anything else is a recovery of a living obedience to the Jesus of the Gospels. One important aspect of this obedience is practicing the sacrament of service. By doing the very things Jesus did for the same kind of people he encountered (the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised, those on the margins of society) we partner with God in the redemption of the world. And in partnering with God in the transformation of the world, we find ourselves in his presence and are thus transformed ourselves.
James challenges us directly in his letter to the Jewish Christian, saying "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22). So when you read the Gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, what do you sense God inviting you to do for "the least of these?" Go do it! And in doing it, may you enjoy being in the presence of the active, living God.