Discipleship is not easy. Jesus didn’t say it would be.
“Shouldn’t we do something Jonathan?!” What is so often the response of a church? Two things usually happens;
- Don’t do anything.
There’s a reason why most people chose this option – it’s easy. It is too much work to change the structure of Sunday school system, “Do it as we’ve done it cause it worked” somehow expecting a different result. The definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” And we wonder how we are in the mess in our Evangelism Discipleship Dilemma, or act like the big elephant doesn’t exist in the room.
- Do your own thing.
Without any church oversight absolutely separated from the process of discipleship, things go as it goes. “You can find stuff and spend your own time and figure out for yourself!” Then the question people are faced are, “Is it worth spending my own time trying and failing, that the church doesn’t even put effort in? Do I even have margin to figure this out on my own?” answer so often leads to, “Nah, I can’t do it. Not worth it”
We must first and foremost must recognize that we cannot do this on our own. Love is the only way to win the free response of men, and this is possible only by the presence of Christ within the heart. How is it done? with the help of παράκλητος (John 16:7)
“Don’t do this without my Spirit” (Rom. 8:9) The very incarnational ministry of our Lord and Savior himself in the beginning of the baptism, The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and fa voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”, (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:22; John 1:32) the apostles Paul spoke in similar fashion to the letters of Romans, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:5)
In the Lord’s prayer we see the unique relationship we have with the Advocate, “Abba Father,” (Matt. 6:9-13) Therefore, our identity lies no longer on the horizontal level here on earth, but vertical heavenward connection. We too often do ministry so that the Father loves us rather do the ministry because we know the Father loves us!
The problem in our discipleship process, is that we begin the starting point in the wrong area. We use people to get love rather than we serve people to give love. The Father has given all in Christ (1 Pet. 1:3), and the Spirit has been poured out in order that we belong to the Father through justification, adoption, and redemption (Indicative Statement that leads to Imperative statement such as the Great Commission: “same side of both coins” Dr. Thomas Schreiner). If we don’t know and understand, we are to stop and pause and go further not, but simply wait on the Lord Jesus (Psalm. 46:10) .
The Spirit reveals all things in, through and for Christ (1 Cor. 2:10) unto His children, and God the Father and the love of the Father we are able to participate in the changing process (“Transformation” Rom 12:10) us as we are one in Christ. Only then, the cold hard theologian’s heart becomes a warm missiologist’s heart who now are able to love and care for the lost.
We must have his life in us by the Spirit if we are to do his work and practice his teaching. Discipleship is not information, nor behavioral modification, but transformation by the Spirit.
You and I don’t reveal truth, you and I can’t convict truth. The spirit of God does that. You could, would should NOT do anything apart from as the Spirit accomplish all things; unless the Spirit of God is at work, we are clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1).
Here is the great paradox of life – we must die to ourselves to live in Christ, and in that renunciation of ourselves, we must give ourselves away in service and devotion to our Lord. This was Jesus’ method of evangelism. (Gal. 2:20)
The cost of discipleship is great. To live with radical abandonment for His glory, faithful adherence to His person, urgent obedience to His ministry—this is costly. But I submit to you that the cost of non-discipleship is far, far, far greater. So let’s get to work!