In my last post I talk about my bias that discipleship is really the core of what it is all about. Unfortunately, like many often-used words, it has a way of getting watered down, murkied, and down-right greyed out, until we can’t make head or tail of it. Here’s my take;
Discipleship is intentional relationship.
(I actually stole that phrase from a good book-writing friend of mine..)
I love the simplicity of that description, firstly it speaks of the importance of being in intentional relationalship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the one we are the disciple of, not our church pastor, small group leader, older friend. If we latch onto these people as the ones we are being formed into the image of, we will end up with the same distortions, blind spots, and exagerations. Jesus is the one we must never lose a vision of, He is the only one worthy of imitation into a place of deep change.
Im not advocating some mystic individualised faith here, people are massively important to this whole process. While I wanted to make sure we had our eyes on Jesus first, healthy discipleship does not take place when we isolate ourselves. People give us way markers, they give us correction, they give us the raw materials of frustration to find the gold of character God is looking to bring out in us.
As ever the wisdom, is not in a ‘one way or the other’ approach, but in a third way, the middle way. Do you want to help others around you become disciples of Jesus? Do you want to become more like Jesus and need input? Intentional relationship, make friends, and be focussed on becoming more like Jesus.
Too much intentional, and not enough relationship brings to mind awkward street preaching scenario’s, where it seems like the goal is for someone to agree to an intellectual statement that corrects a legal standing but has little to do with people or relationship.
Friendship evangelism was catch-phrase for a while, and its hard to argue against true relationship being the most important aspect in most people becoming followers of Jesus. But at some point, we have to be intentional about sharing Jesus, about inviting others to speak into our lives so that we become more like Jesus.
Are there other Jesus-following friends you could invite to have that kind of voice?
Are there friends you have who don’t know Jesus and you are holding back your reason for living?
Ask God for the love and courage to have intentional realtionship, and enter the life of discipleship.