Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Discipleship Dilemma (Part 2)

Because of our misunderstanding, misuse, and misapplication of discipleship, many Christians have shunned away or been turned away from this very biblical and necessary process. If you were to ask 10 different Christians what discipleship was, you would most likely get at least 6 different answers. Here are a few:

It's reading your Bible.

It's praying every day.

It's going to church.

While all of these answers are involved in discipleship, none of them are the total picture of what discipleship IS. Discipleship is the process of becoming a disciple. Note two things:

1. It is a process...
it's not a place to be, a thing to do, or a group to belong to.

2. It is voluntary...
you can only be discipled to the extent that you submit yourself to it.

If you were then to ask the same group of Christians how discipleship works... you probably would get a lot of the same answers. Read your Bible... Pray everyday... etc.

I would like to submit a different view of what discipleship could be. Knowing that the discipleship is a voluntary process of becoming more like Christ, let's look at how it should work.

In my opinion, there are three main elements to the discipleship process:

1. Character

Before you ever speak, your character is there. Many people you will meet have already heard about you or have interacted with someone who knows you and you character has made an impression on them. Godly character is not up for debate, we should all have it, but we don't automatically get it just because we call Jesus our Savior. We must work to make our character more like Christ's if we are to reflect Him to our world.

2. Discipline

Without the discipline, there can no be real growth. (thank you fortune cookie guy) Discipline is not a very popular or common word in Christendom today, but it is a very necessary one. Jesus was a very disciplined person. He disciplined, corrected, and rebuked His disciples, so did Paul.

3. Knowledge

This is probably the most misunderstood element of discipleship. We do need to grow in our knowledge of the spiritual matters. How can we be expected to grow if we don't know anything about growth. It is the knowledge that guides our growth in Christ and helps us to avoid dangerous pitfalls.

There is also a symbiotic relationship between these three elements that must be addressed. Growing in one or two of these areas without the the other is still of little use. Let me illustrate:

You can not grow in character without the discipline and knowledge to correct it.

You can not grow in discipline without the knowledge and character to hold to it.

You can not grow in knowledge without the character and discipline to learn it.

To only grow in one or two areas and ignore the reality of the other is both naive and detrimental. I'm sure we have all met men and women who claim to be very knowledgeable but have poor character... or who have close to impeccable character, but don't teach the Word of God correctly. You are left with sour taste of spiritual maturity, not because they weren't truly knowledgeable or had good character, but because you weren't given the whole picture of true spiritual maturity and discipleship.

If we want to grow and become more like Christ, we must evaluate ourselves on all three elements of discipleship. Because, like many other things in life, we are only as strong as our weakest area.

- Just a thought.

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