If we really took the directions from scriptures as commands and good counsel, we would likely be more committed to self-improvement. Not so much with physical conditioning and weight loss, but more about concern for the spiritual health of ourselves and others. Do you believe it’s your responsibility to help build and maintain a healthy church? If you are a Christian, I’d hope you would respond by saying “yes.”
Independence is a two-edged lifestyle. There are benefits and drawbacks. As Americans, we prize it. This land was established by rugged, brave, independent people. The problem is it’s not just pioneers, poets and forest rangers today that love their independence. The population at large is disengaging from their clubs, civic associations and local churches. Even those remaining in such organizations are commonly prizing the DIY lifestyle. Yes, even Christians. The “i-life” of communications and devices has left little space for the “we-life” that Jesus endorses for his church.
The last words of people we care for are normally memorable and important. This is certainly true of Jesus by him commanding us before ascending to “go and make disciples.” (Matt.18:19) Helping others follow Jesus is the practical definition of the verb “disciple.” In the 1400’s Thomas Kempis wrote a meaningful devotional called The Imitation of Christ. That’s what disciple-making and disciple living is all about – growing into a lifestyle that imitates the faith and character of Jesus. Living as Jesus modeled life.
Why do we even contemplate the matter of discipleship? It is because at its finest and simplest the Christian life is the discipling life. Disciples disciple. The motive you ask? Besides basic obedience to Jesus’ command, Paul asserts “the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Cor. 5:14) What do we allow to oppose us in living a lifestyle of discipleship, a life which too often stands stubbornly in opposition to the command of our Lord? Is it pride? Are we embarrassed to let someone know (as if they didn’t) that we don’t have all the answers? Do we believe the lie that we have nothing to offer from our spiritual bank account? Is it a fear of looking stupid or weak or vulnerable? Is it that we will not make time in our schedule to enrich ourselves spiritually or pass on spiritual refreshment to others?
No matter where we are on our spiritual journey, Jesus would have us moving forward. Not necessarily to become theologians, but to become equippers and ambassadors of the gospel as we progress in our faith and character “makeover.” As a priority, we should all be willing and eager to pursue what others offer us as spiritual enrichment so that we can transfer “life” to others. (One beggar showing another where he got bread. Or more-so, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17)
Discipleship is a growth opportunity for both the disciple and the “step or two ahead” discipler. With this in mind, who could you come alongside and ask to help you begin to more closely follow Jesus in your life practice and help you internalize the truths of scripture? Or, who could you seek out to walk a few miles with them and dig deeper into your faith lives, preparing you both for the next leg and next person along your journey? You’ll be surprised how willing people are to connect when you ask for time together, set a mutually agreeable meeting schedule and establish a ”season” for this spiritual walk. Don’t let fear, pride or embarrassment get in your way. These partnerships are rich! Be bold! Pour the coffee. Think About It.