Discipleship is risky business: deny yourself, take up your cross, lose your life to gain it, leave (hate, Lk. 14:26) father & mother etc. Yet this is precisely the mission given to the universal church, and to our church by the Lord Jesus! Discipleship begins with some “easy” stuff: open the door, believe in and receive Jesus, take the water of life without cost, saved by the grace gift of God not of works. But once a person is born-again, she/he will never be the same. So, yes, discipleship is risky business, but in this case the statement is true, no risk, no reward.
Ideal discipleship takes place in the context of a loving fellowship of Believers with learners committed to learning and teachers committed to teaching. For the learners, they need to be teachable and obedient. For the teachers, they also need to be teachable, have a servant’s heart, and remain obedient. And when learning-teaching is taking place, there will be fruit bearing, both character fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) and ministry fruit (Jn. 15:16).
Discipleship training happens in both structured and unstructured environments. The structured environment includes accountability relationships between the teacher and learner. These accountability relationships seem to work best one-on-one or in a small group. The unstructured environment involves less direct accountability among the people to each other, but more accountability between the individual and the Lord. These unstructured events include our Sunday and Thursday worship services, the weekly Bible studies, and virtually every time “two or more” are gathered in Jesus’ name.
My appeal in this article is to get us thinking about discipleship and where each of us is in our discipleship process. Since our ultimate goal is to become like Jesus (1Jn. 3:2), then our primary identity here and now is to be a growing disciple of Jesus. Some have stopped with the easy stuff and never taken the next step. Some have taken that next step of life dedication but have become complacent in their walk with God and witness for Jesus. And some have truly embraced the call to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Jesus.
Next month I want to “dive a little deeper” and “stay down a little longer” on this process of being and making disciples. For now, I urge you to make it your goal today to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus. Take that next step in this work of becoming complete in Christ. And may God bless you richly as you follow our risen Lord!
In Christ our living hope,