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Written by Ps Paul Wetzig - Mission Engagement Team and Minister in Supply, Bulimba Uniting Church

Recently my son was part of a team of high schoolers that undertook the Kokoda 96km Challenge. Set in the Gold Coast Hinterland, it's an event where the distance has to be run, walked, or crawled, in about 40hrs non-stop with the team having to cross the finish line together to successfully complete the event. This is not an event for the faint hearted! 

In the months leading up to the event I watched as my son gained the knowledge, he would need to undertake this journey. Learning what he'd need to eat and drink, how he had to look after his body and understand the course that they would be taking. 

With this knowledge onboard I then watched as he clocked up kilometre after kilometre conditioning his body for the journey and learning to work with his team. Investing his hard earned money in the right equipment after testing and replacing things to ensure he had the right equipment that would last the distance and not cause injury. There were boots that were tried and failed due to blisters. There were backpacks abandoned and replaced due to pressure sores from carrying supplies. 

As they walked hour after hour there was also the challenge of learning to slow his pace so that those who were struggling could keep up, learning to push through his own barriers at the points where he was faltering and allow others to encourage him. Finally, there was the practice working with his support crew, those who would be looking after him on his stops along the way. Communicating with them how he was going. Listening to their words of encouragement and support. This would be a test of body, mind, and spirit. 

And so the days of the event came. Thirty-five and a half hours after they began, their team of fifteen crossed the finish line, exhausted but jubilant at what they'd achieved. There was celebration and jubilation from their loved ones and the crowd who were gathered at the finish line. Sweaty, stinky hugs and tears shared at what had been achieved. Their bodies were sore, but their spirits were ecstatic at what had been accomplished. 

As I've reflected on this experience, I've been reminded of what it means to be a disciple. We are all disciples of something. We all have numerous things that we commit ourselves to body, mind, and soul, whether it's our careers, our families, our hobby or passion or our faith. 

Things that drive us to invest our time in learning about that thing. 

That inspire us to give our energy to doing that thing. 

That encourage us to spend our money on what we need to have the best go at that thing.

That draw us into community to encourage and inspire us and for us to share our experience and knowledge of being part of that thing. 

We are all disciples. 

When Jesus gathered his community of followers together and began teaching, through word and deed, he invited them to be his disciples. People who would commit their lives to following his way and being part of God's extreme event - the restoration of all things; the restoration of the way of life God had always intended for humanity since the beginning. From the beginning, through his person, Jesus embodied the restoration of sacrificial love as the ground of being between God and humanity and in human relations with each other. This was what Jesus taught and encouraged all those he met to understand. 

But Jesus didn't just teach this and encourage people to know this, he also demonstrated it and called his followers to practice this through the way they lived. In the interactions that they had with each other and the wider world, Jesus challenged his disciples to live self-sacrificing, radically counter-cultural lives. What a huge, and seemingly impossible challenge to undertake! But he didn't leave them on their own to do this. 

Central to the ongoing accomplishment of this task was the creation of a community that would live this way together, inspiring, encouraging and sustaining each other in the highs and lows of the journey. So the Church was born as this community of praxis - lived knowledge. 

As I reflect on the invitation that Jesus gives us, I'm challenged to consider how I seek to know and live Jesus' way, in community, for the restoration of all things; how I live as a disciple. 

Is my time captured by wanting to know more of Jesus way and discover more of God's plan for life?

Is my energy given to living out, in the most practical of ways, the things that I learn?

Am I part of a community that helps me learn, inspires, encourages, and gives me opportunities to practice what I learn?

And most significantly, am I captured by this incredible opportunity to contribute my life to this task of working with Jesus for the restoration of all things? 

When I eventually cross the finish line of life, whenever that may be, I would like to hope that I have invested my life well in being part of God's great plan of restoration. That I have loved and lived well. I hope that you will be with me at that finish line, cheering me from behind as you continue the race, or celebrating with me from the other side as a triumphant finisher. 

Until that day, may we give all that we have to this task and be so captured by love that we have all the strength we need for the next step of the journey. 

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