“Silence,” a new film by Martin Scorsese, is a deeply religious story about Jesuit priests and persecution in 17th century Japan. Ever since I heard about the film, I couldn’t wait to see it (and it’s finally in Lexington!). In the film, Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver all play Jesuit priests, and as a part of their preparation for the film, they took on the spiritual exercises of the Jesuits. These exercises are made up of meditations, prayers, and practices that help form you into Christlikeness.
You’d expect these movie stars to breeze through these practices on the surface, but they all immersed themselves deeply within them. The results might surprise you. Here’s how Andrew Garfield explained it: “There were so many things in the Exercises that changed me and transformed me, that showed me who I was…and where I believe God wants me to be…“What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing.”(article here)
And Liam Neeson? Here’s his thoughts: “The Jesuit training, through the Spiritual Exercises, is very profound. You strike up a relationship with Christ through the Gospels, so that ultimately Christ becomes your brother, someone you talk to regularly, every day, throughout the day.”(article here)
In a way, these two world famous movie stars had become disciples of Jesus. They took on formational practices that transformed the way they saw God, the world, and themselves. In Church, we tend to think of discipleship as a curriculum or a class. We’ve been taught primarily a form of discipleship that is rooted in consuming information, believing that eventually this will lead to transformation.
But discipleship isn’t just information, it’s formation. A call to discipleship is a call to apprenticeship – of learning from Jesus to become like Jesus. Here’s how author Dallas Willard describes it: “As Jesus’ disciple, I am his apprentice in kingdom living. I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if he were I. It is my faith in him that led me to become his disciple. My confidence in him simply means that I believe that he is right about everything: that all that he is and says shows what life is at its best, what it was intended by God to be.”
At Restoration one of our core values is that “Discipleship Is Our Framework.” We see being disciples and making disciples as the primary task of the Church – helping people from every walk of life to lead their lives, as Willard says, as if Jesus were living through them.
For us, this means both individual and community practices that help us know, love, and follow Jesus, and together, become more and more like him. At it’s heart, that’s what it means to be restored – to become more and more alive in Christ as Christ becomes more and more alive in us.
This weekend, we’re going to unpack this idea of discipleship, and in the coming weeks, we’ll talk about some of our community practices that will grow us as disciples. Until then, I encourage you to join us Sunday night!