Disciples are called and cultivated in community. Humans are social creatures, and a life with Christ is one lived together with fellow Christians. Ours is not a solitary religion. At its best, discipleship is a life of rich relationships and the love of God lived out through selfless love for neighbors.
Two great Commandments: Jesus summarized his teachings in Matthew 22:37-40:
“You shall love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” this is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandment hangs all the law and the prophets.
These two great commandments are applied through a General Rule of discipleship that shapes the life and work of the groups: “To witness to Jesus Christ in the world, and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” see Book of Discipline Par. 1116.2a)
The importance of the General rule is the balance it maintains among all of the teachings of Jesus:
- Loving God (Works of Piety) Acts of DEVOTION AND WORSHIP
- Loving Neighbor (Works of Mercy) Acts of COMPASSION & JUSTICE
A General Rule
The General Rule of Discipleship is just what it says: a general rule. It is not meant to be followed to the letter, quite simply because each disciple is a unique person, doing unique things for Christ.
These distinctive gifts and grace should be used to the fullest, not least because they will complement and enhance everyone else’s strength and skills. The Testament image of the Body of Christ is helpful in this regard: Each part of the body contributes to the wellbeing of the whole, precisely because each part is distinct yet inseparable. So it is with discipleship. Each of has a unique contribution to make to the whole