the discipling continuum

If we assume that listening to the One who made us is appropriate, since He would know how we would live in abundance more than anyone else, and if we take seriously His command to be discipling people as we go in daily life (Matthew 28:18-20), then we must grapple with a very significant question.

how can discipling become the purpose of my life, my lifestyle even, and not just be that obligatory church program it has so often become?

Our motivation, if we follow Jesus, should be to simply love God and love people. Relate with and walk with the living God, listening to Him daily. Love people, be their friend, no hidden agenda but to give a love that has been so freely given to us.

Our purpose, or Jesus’ directive for the mission of our lives, would then have to be discipling. This was a “last word” so to speak to His followers in Matthew 28:18-20. You can see two earlier post that give some personal thoughts and opinions (discipleship: thinking process not program and what is the most important element of discipling?) on “discipling” or “discipleship” as it is more commonly called, but here is a basic definition that the WestpointChurch.org leaders have settled on:

…learning the ways of Jesus and living those ways together allowing others to taste and see Jesus and begin to follow Him and then be learning His ways and living His ways together allowing others to taste and see Jesus and begin to follow Him, and so on…

I think it is safe to say, based on how Jesus lived it and how He taught it, that discipling is not just some segment of a Christian experience. It is not just some class I join to learn more stuff. In fact, I would suggest that it is not just something you do or sign up for. Rather, it is very much who you are, who you are becoming, and that which defines your daily life (Mark 1:17). Discipling should always be driving me, always making me aware, always impacting the decisions and relationships of my life. 

This is an important thought simply for this reason – I can be a part of the movement Jesus gave His life to initiate or I can cheapen Christianity into nothing more than a self-help experience. If discipling becomes my lifestyle, then I will be a catalyst for a discipling continuum. If I become a “what have you done for me lately Christian,” then I will be a dead-end for movement. 

So, how can discipling become the purpose of my life, my lifestyle even? Here are four suggestions:

we must BE CONFIDENT.

Discipling is the purpose you have been given, and you have been declared more than able to do it. In fact, Jesus nailed it down – you are worth dying for. What do we do with His statement in John 14:11-14?

Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

“Greater things” – what is He talking about?! Greater things than He? He must be confident in us. Maybe we should trust His confidence in us and live sent as though we have been given a value and a love worth passing along, entrusted with a movement that has changed our planet.

we must STAY CONSCIOUS.

Two questions Jim Collins asked our church family a few weeks back:

Who in your world has not been exposed to the life changing love of Jesus? 

How often do you pray for these persons?

Do we believe that this Jesus stuff is merely a religion to sign up for or an abundant life and gracious treasure that was died to be given to us and that is more than worth passing along? We need the kind of heart for others that Paul expressed in 1st Corinthians 9:19-23:

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

we must LIVE CONNECTED.

Do we walk with Jesus daily, CONNECTED TO GOD, growing in love, listening to Him? Are we CONNECTED TO OTHERS – tuning into God not just for “His will for my life” but rather for His prompting to let me in on what He is doing in the life of someone around me and how He will use me to encourage them to be deeply connected to Him? In other words, SIMPLY BEING A FRIEND.

QUESTION – are we commanded to connect people with “a church” or to be a part of connecting them with God? Our answer will have drastic impact on the course of our daily and on the motivation of our living.

we must always PRAY.

Like the early church, that we will daily learn His ways and live His ways through our actions and our words with a “fearless confidence in preaching His message.” That’s what they prayed, after being persecuted in Acts 4:23-37, that in their daily living and with their lives they would have a “fearless confidence in preaching His message.” May we do the same. And listen as He prompts us and leads us in His ways to love people just as they are. 

THE BOTTOM LINE_Be discipling. As you go. Everyday. Family. Neighbors. In the marketplace. Classmates. Friends. Do you see the movement that it is, that we can join in on? We can either join in on this movement, this discipling continuum that Jesus started and the early church joined in on as seen in Acts 4 – following Jesus and learning His ways and living His ways together – and see it continue far beyond our efforts, or we can just be dead-end religion hoarders whose “Christianity” stops right here with us. 

Let’s pray this – God, please “give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

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