As a thirty-year-old woman who grew up in a Christian home, I had many, many people who spoke into my life. Some did it with purpose, some by default, and some out of the overflow of what Christ had done in their lives. If you had asked me, three or four years ago: what is discipleship? My answer would have been some vague mix of theology and an allusion to the disciples being called to follow Christ. Today, if you were to ask a different question: what is one of the greatest needs in our church today? My answer would be: discipleship. But what I mean when I use the word discipleship today means something drastically different than it did at earlier times in my life. Now, discipleship is about giving your life away. Here is what I believe are six aspects to discipleship:
- To love people in their pains and their joys
- To consistently, persistently point people to Christ
- To live a life worthy of this statement: “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.
- To wrestle through the hard questions and the wonderings
- To show people how to know, hear and follow God
- To take the lessons we have learned and live them out with people
I spend time with a wide range of people from various parts of my life. God has given me the gift of years in high school ministry and missions, and the relationships I have gained from those two areas of ministry alone are beautiful and eternal. More often than not, when I meet with a young person (after a period apart) and ask them to identify a person who has been investing in their life with intentionality for the sake of the Gospel, they give me little more than a blank stare.
Within Calvary Chapel, we have (acceptably) mastered the important practice of teaching people the Bible. We do the outreach events. We allow opportunity for people to respond to the gospel and be saved. We lead worship. We regularly pray. We do a lot of great things well! But with all humility, grace and love, may I suggest that what is sometimes lacking in many of our churches is the sacrificial, life-giving, personal, messy, exhausting love of biblical discipleship? We are glad when people come to Christ. And we are glad to give them the road map of biblical teaching to follow on the rest of their journey toward heaven.
Jesus and Discipleship
When I look at the life of Christ, I am continually startled at the way He chose to give Himself away. He was the great Giver in all ways. Above all, He gave His life and time with intentionality and purpose for the sake of the Gospel. May our lives daily look more like His. Let us live a life of servitude to others for the sake of their spiritual growth.
“But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26, 27 ESV)
Books that have influenced my perspective on discipleship:
Multiply by Francis Chan and David Platt
Love Does by Bob Goff