Mark 3:13-14 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out…
Acts 17:6 “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,…”
Many people around the world go to church religiously without accepting Christ or without knowing how to follow Him in every area of life. Few church leaders bother to build a culture of biblical, “life-on-life laboring in the lives of a few” discipleship within their churches, but those who do attempt it may be met with an array of objections, fears, and resistance from church members and even leaders in the church.
Discipleship has become a buzz word with multiple understandings making it difficult to communicate clearly about what it is, and what it is not. The result is often reversion to ‘religious’ institutional entertainment, activities, schedules, and programs that fill the calendar of the church in an attempt to appeal to the religious cultural preferences of members, but without the expectation that Christians should have a mindset of following Jesus in the obedience of disciple-making.
The mere words: discipleship, evangelism, outreach, and spiritual growth literally scare some Christians because those disciplines are outside the norm of the culture of the church in America today. All this makes the challenge of reaching the lost in the community even more difficult. For all its faults, the lost culture around churches in America today may sense that there is often a real disconnect from Reality afoot at the typical local church; therefore, they label the church as “irrelevant”.
Theologically speaking, any person who has been called by Christ is a follower or disciple. Much like sanctification, discipleship is a process of growth. But it is not a self improvement program in which we can ‘accept’ Christ as Savior today and maybe later ‘accept’ him as Lord and become a disciple. The Spirit’s call to the heart is always a call to follow. So, the true disciple is a person who answers Christ’s call to “be with him” in preparation “that he (or she) might be sent out”.
One of the definitive characteristics of Christianity, and therefore of Christians, is that Jesus calls us into relationship with himself…in fact, with the triune God. The one thing required of any relationship is time together. The disciple understands that his or her relationship with Christ is not a form of ‘religiosity’ through simple Church attendance. Once or twice a week is not enough for the authentic disciple. The authentic disciple longs for daily time spent with God through his Word.
The outward focus of a disciple is an intentional sharing out of that private walk with God, as opposed to just giving information. It’s a philosophical shift,” says Hershey. “When truth is shared out of the life, people relate to it. It makes sense, and it becomes organic as opposed to getting lectured with information.” This life-to-life investing in the lives of a few sharing is exactly why Jesus spent time (3 years) with his first disciples. If book-to-life were his mode of disciple-making, surely Jesus would have spent those three years writing books. If university or seminary instruction had been his mode, surely he would have founded at least one educational institution. Why didn’t he write books for three years, or establish schools? …because he knew it would not work. It was Jesus’ intention to die for his church and reach every people group through his disciples. Jesus intentionally bypassed “book-to-life” and “institution-to-life” and instead spent his days life-to-life with his disciples to invest his life in the lives of a few ordinary men. The New Testament is a record of the events of those days, what they preached and taught, how they continued to share life-to-life through fellowship and eating and praying together, and how it turned the world upside down.
Pray about your daily routines. Choose a time and place for daily time in the Word, Prayer, and Worship. Determine to be an authentic follower, a disciple of Jesus by being ‘with him’ to the maximum extent possible.