A few Wednesday nights ago we had our last winter Bible study, before our Fellowship Groups started back up. My topic was that of one of our goals for 2010 – Growing in Discipleship. It’s a word we’ve heard a thousand time. And we know we should be doing it. What does discipleship even mean? How can we accomplish a goal, if were not sure what it means? One of the ways that I proposed that we would accomplish this goal was by shifting our thinking about discipleship. If we can, by the work of the Holy Spirit, change our thinking, then I believe we’ll be a little further in fulfilling this goal. Here are seven ways that we need to change our minds about discipleship:
1. From programs to process. Romans 8:28-30
Far too often we equate discipleship with programs – Discipleship Training, Adult Bible Fellowship, Sunday School, and yes even, Fellowship Groups and Rooted Events. Completing a course or a curriculum does not mean you’ve been discipled. The Scriptures teach us that discipleship is a process. It begins when we become a Christian and ends when we see Christ face to face.
2. From doing to being. Galatians 5:22-23
Another misunderstanding about discipleship is that it mainly involves the things I do. I need to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. While actions are important, we are called to more than actions. Let’s face it – we are great at doing the right things and many time we do it for the wrong reason (i.e. a sense of guilt or duty, so people will think we are ‘spiritual’). Following Christ means being like Him.
3. From outward to inward. Matthew 23:25-26
We need to shift our thinking from the outward to the inward. The Christian life is not all about outward actions – go to church, do your quiet time, don’t watch ‘R’ rated movies, don’t go to the gambling boat. Christ wants us to look to the heart. We need to shift our focus from the outward to the inward. For just like #2 above, we can look great on the outside, even though our hearts are filled with sin.
4. From knowledge to obedience. James 2:22-25
A believer must grow in the knowledge of the Lord. But that knowledge, the true knowledge of the gospel of Christ, will lead to action. We must not be content simply with learning more about God or the gospel or the Word. Knowing the Word of God and not doing it is as ridiculous as a man who looks in the mirror, bends down to brush his teeth, and forgets what he look like.
5. From modification to transformation. Romans 12:2
True discipleship is not about fixing my behaviors. If I’ve been short with my wife lately, I don’t need to work on counting to 10 before I say something. Christ wants my heart attitude to please and honor him. This means transformation. Our goal is not simply to fix our problems by dealing with them differently. True discipleship calls us to see our hearts as the main problem and gospel transformation – conformity to Christ – as the fix to those problems.
6. From me to us. Ephesians 4:11-16
“Me and Jesus got our own thing going on.” This is the mantra of someone who knows nothing of the Biblical idea of discipleship. Growth in discipleship is a community affair. We are in this together. This makes our participation and service in the ministries of our local church vital. Church is not something we go to or something we watch. We are to gather together to encourage one another, admonish one another, teach one another, prayer for one another, build one another up. This is discipleship.
7. From immediate to life-long. Philippians 3:12-15
Growing in discipleship is a goal of Christ Fellowship for 2010. But this will not be the year that we are discipled. It will not be the year that we arrive. Discipleship is a life-long gradual process of constantly becoming more and more like Christ. This will happen until, as I said earlier, we see Christ face to face. Let us press on to run the race, to fight the good prize, to attain by all means the resurrection from the dead!
May God give us the grace to change the way we think about discipleship and to grow in it more and more.