When you think about discipleship, what comes to mind? I’ve been searching extensively online for great questions to get amazing faith discussions going but have become disappointed. Everything I found online about great discipleship questions fell into two categories. 1. Articles describing how important discipleship is (but not explaining how to do it). 2. A list of intense questions, often including, “How many times did you sin this week?” As I read intense list of after intense list I realized it bothered me and I think I know why. The process of discipleship is never about a list of do’s and don’ts.
I love what Tim Keller said about this in an article I read recently. He said, “Discipleship is not just a matter of bending your will to Jesus’ will; it’s melting your heart into a whole new shape. A disciple is not someone who simply sets a new priority; a disciple finds a new identity.” We don’t become more like Jesus by sheer effort, focusing on all the ways we’re succeeding or screwing up. Discipleship is not a heavenly behavior modification plan. Discipleship is our process of becoming more like Jesus- from the inside out.
Imagine I briefly told you about a friend of mine, named Bob. Then I said, “Ok, now because of your love for Bob, I’d like you to mow his grass everyday, stop over and say hi and tell him about how your day’s going. Also, I’ll need you to give up all your other friends and prioritize your friendship with Bob.” You would think I was crazy. Maybe you could do it for a while, but pretty soon it would be exhausting!
But, this is often exactly what we expect disciples of Jesus to do. We focus on all the behaviors one would do as a good friend of Jesus and ask people to perform those activities. But, we forget to talk about developing a friendship with him first.
Instead, Tim talks about how the only way we can become more like Jesus is by experiencing His grace, His love, and His mercy. Until you know Jesus and understand the power of what He’s done for you– any behavior modification you attempt will seem hollow and short-lived.
If I told you my friend Bob was going to watch your kids for the next week while you go on vacation- do you know what you’re top priority will be until you leave? You’ll definitely be spending a lot of time getting to know Bob. You’ll want to find out if he’s trustworthy? What’s he like? Does he even like kids? You’ll really want to find out everything about him to determine if it’ll be safe to leave your most prized possession on earth with him. It’s the same with Jesus. Before we go about changing our whole life for Jesus- it’s fair to spend time getting to know Him. Determine if He’s trustworthy. Find out what God’s like. I believe that God will faithfully reveal Himself to the person who sincerely pursues Him- and this will begin true discipleship in your life.
- What is God saying to you?
- What are you going to do about it?
Instead of immediately focusing on behavior modification, this first question focuses on listening to God. If your answer is, “nothing,” then it’s pretty clear you need to start with going back and listening to the voice of God in our life. Once we hear God’s voice in our life, then the challenge is to go do something about it. Good stuff.
Tim Keller article– Click here
To Recap- this is not discipleship: