Richard Hays on following Jesus

This is the video of Richard Hays' sermon upon being formally installed as the dean of United Methodist-related Duke Divinity School this Fall semester; it was delivered in Duke Chapel.

This is an important word for The United Methodist Church, and all churches, to hear. In our own communion, we have often lowered the bar of discipleship so far (in the name of being "inclusive") that the actual teachings of Jesus may begin to sound foreign and even repugnant to some of us. Perhaps all the more so if we've engaged in formal theological education.

In such cases we need to say, with the words of our own Liturgy, "we have failed to be an obedient church" and begin to learn again what it is to submit to the teachings of the Lord, knowing that this will stretch us, even cause us pain, but will ultimately lead us to Life.

Perhaps we should meditate upon this prayer from the Anglican tradition within which Methodism arose to begin with:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son did not go up to joy until first he suffered pain, and did not enter into glory until first he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Question: What can the local church realistically do right now to raise the bar of membership (so that includes expectations and discipleship)?

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