I think her name was Jama. She was about five-foot-nothing, and her feet were wandering aimlessly. Her mind was focused on one thing: $4. She needed $4 for a big can of beer. She started by asking me for a cigarette, but I don’t smoke. So she moved right to the pitch: it’s only $4.
We walked to the Safeway, found some food, and checked out. Even while she was choosing what to eat, she told me, “it’s just $4.” But it’s not about the money. Following our feet from the Safeway to the C-Train, she tells me about the weekend she’s had, when she almost killed herself drinking a “two-six.” But she just needs $4.
Addiction is killing Jama.
In the meantime, I’ve spent the last ten months wondering how to define “a Christ-like disciple.” I spent my whole Summer reading about what it means to be missional (like Jesus), my whole Fall praying with friends about what it means to be Christ-like disciples at Skyview, and now most of my Winter thinking about what I’ve read and prayed. Jama has almost killed herself drinking just a few blocks from my oﬃce, where I’ve been reading and praying and thinking. . .
I’m still not sure what it means to be a Christ-like disciple. We don’t have any record of how Jesus interacted with drunk people, or any letters from Paul about facing a subculture of substance- abuse. I am sure that Jesus loves Jama. I have this weight in my gut that tells me Jesus’ love for Jama means something for us.
Our District pastors oﬀered a definition of Christlike disciples at our annual assembly last year:
“A Christlike disciple is one whose encounter with Jesus has so captured them that they cooperate with the Holy Spirit in reordering their lives to more fully love God and others.”
Jama needs a community that has been so captured by Jesus that they will love her. That community might not have the resources to work through her addiction on their own strength, but every community that has been captured by Jesus’ love is haunted by the Holy presence of God: Paul writes to the Ephesian church that together they make up the temple of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2.21). This is the same “Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead,” the Spirit who is able to raise Jama out of addiction.
One Christian can buy Jama a samosa and walk her to the train station; one Christian can say, ‘Jesus loves you’; a Church filled with God’s Spirit can say together, ‘We have been raised with Christ, so you too can get up and walk!’
The vision for Missional Community at Skyview is not only a trendy title for discipleship groups; we look to Jesus as together we follow his teaching and his example of love for the world.
In brief, Missional Communities look
UP to God in a life of worship and Christian prayer,
IN to the community that God has made in Christ, and
OUT to the world that God has sent us to.
If you want to be part of a community like that, please write me at email@example.com and I’ll put you in touch with one of the groups starting at Skyview!
Ryan Herbert, Associate Pastor of Missional Community