By Brock Bondurant
About three years ago, I began a season of renewal. I learned about “practicing the way of Jesus” taught by guys like John Mark Comer out of Portland, OR. It brought something to my faith that I didn’t know existed, namely active participation in my own transformation – a transformation that God deeply desires to do within us. Prior to this, I had largely known faith as following Jesus more like one might follow a twitter-handle more than like a rabbi, let alone Lord God, King of the Universe. I was accustomed to a church environment that was 1,000 miles wide and an inch deep; a church that was comfortable, preaching the Bible and pointing to Jesus, but without digging deeper into any of the “Jesus things.” To me, it began to feel like preaching more for numbers instead of for depth. In that environment, I found it hard to grow. I had faith in Jesus, but still struggled to bear any of the fruit he displayed. It’s easy to say “be more loving,” harder to actually practice, let alone become the type of person who loves more. This is especially hard if ‘faith’ is just this wishy, hopey sort of thing that we intellectualize and don’t ever do anything with.
What am I getting at? I believe that following Jesus must look like something. I suspect that when Jesus said “follow me,” walking came next. Jesus, in his way, was asking his new follower to begin placing his feet in the footprints of his Teacher, to learn Jesus’ ways and take up his lifestyle.
I came to know Christ when I was 21 years old at a camp put on by Athletes in Action, an affiliate of Cru campus ministry. Up until that moment, faith in Jesus looked like dead religion to me. But at camp I encountered his love tangibly in relationship, surrendered my identity in idols, and began my new life with Jesus.
Coming home to the University of Missouri, I became a leader in our ministry and went back to camp the next year as an intern, leading the campers in small groups and training. It was then that I learned that God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. I had natural gifts of leadership that had sustained me throughout my life, being a team captain in every sport in high school, class president, and things of the like, but I never thought that I could lead in ministry. I was too broken. I had a past that should disqualify me from leading, so I thought. But God graciously showed me otherwise.
A couple years later I finished up a season of coaching college football and went back to being on staff at the same camp. Being a volunteer and not full-time Cru staff, I was shocked when the camp director gave me one of the biggest leadership roles at camp. I was overwhelmed, out of my league. Yet God showed up, showing me my life’s calling: I want to do this every day. What was this? – leading people into the more that Jesus has on offer. However, the only ‘more’ I knew of at this point was a bit of newfound peace amid life’s difficulties after accepting Christ. This is when Comer, Dallas Willard, Ruth Haley Barton, and other brothers and sisters began to show me the new Way.
Up to this point, I had known discipleship as the accumulation of knowledge about Jesus. I think that’s how most of the western Church has treated the subject. But if what I learn doesn’t make its way down from my head into my heart, and is then lived out through my body, what good has it done? Again, following Jesus must look like something. I found the way of Jesus – spiritual formation that could address the heart issue and help me walk in step with the Spirit. With the three goals of discipleship: 1) Be with Jesus, 2) Become like Jesus, and 3) Do what Jesus did, I started engaging in the spiritual disciplines in community and finding life. As an athlete, this spoke to me; it was a lifestyle of training! The difference that I found was that the disciplines or practices are less about ‘do’ and ‘perform’, more about taste and see. And the Lord truly is good.
From my experience of being an athlete and leading athletes, I’ve since begun a new role in my career that allows me to help others discover the transformative power of Holy Spirit. I want to continually grow to better help people find the lost way of discipleship to our Rabbi, Jesus. By stepping into this calling, I deeply desire to help spark personal renewal in the lives of those that I get to serve. I believe that with every personal renewal, we come closer to revival. That’s what I’m after – a great move of God among his people.
This great move will come only from Holy Spirit who is the center of all transformation. We must continually put ourselves in position to receive his Presence and his Power. Though small, that is our role in transformation, to simply put ourselves in proximity to our Rabbi through teaching, community, and practice. There is life abundant – life in the eternal Presence offered here, now, and forever. I want to help people step into that – into the easy yoke of Jesus.