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::Devotional:: ‘Handcrafted’

November 10, 2009

This past year my wife and I took a short vacation with her brother and sister-in-law to Massanuhtten Resort in Harrisonburg, VA.  After the vacation we all returned to the house we lived in at the time in Warrenton, Va and the route home took us over the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the Shenandoah National Park.  Along the way we all took notice of a little table making shop on the side of the road that said “Antique Tables Made Daily.” Antiques?  Made daily?  Really?  Now of course what they were meaning was a certain style of table made a certain way that resembled the same from the past, but at first glance it is still funny.  Regardless of how they advertised their tables, what made them unique was the fact that they were handcrafted rather than mass-produced.

I’m in the process of reading several books, one of which is Risking Church by James Kallam Jr. of the Church at Charlotte in North Carolina.  In the book, Mr. Kallam speaks about the difference between mass producing and handcrafting.  However, he’s not talking about tables or furniture but rather disciples of Jesus Christ.

Shepherding is messy business.  It involves caring for, feeding, binding wounds, protecting, leading and so much more.  To further complicate matters, some sheep don’t want guidance or help.  To avoid this mess and keep things orderly, the church in America has gravitated to systems built on principles that can be packaged and managed.  As Eugene Paterson says, “We have traded in the vocation of handcrafiting saints for the business of mass-producing sheep.”  It’s certainly easier, but it lands us far from the heart of God.

This business of handcrafting saints or disciples is exactly what Jesus had in mind when he gave the Great Commission to his 11 disciples.  There was no mention of programs or methods or systematic workbooks – no, the simple command was this:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything  have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matthew 28:18-20

Somewhere along the way it became acceptable to shove a book at someone who desired to grow closer to God rather than to sit down and take the time to talk with them, to pray with them, to lead them by the hand until they could walk and navigate on their own.  I’m thankful for Christian bookstores, but at the same time the shelves are lined with so much material on how to make yourself a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I don’t think that’s how Jesus designed the process to work, do you?  Disciples aren’t self-made and they can’t be mass-produced.  Disciples are handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, Master-pieces.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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