There is a lot of discussion and a lot written about discipleship in the church today. In fact, I wrote several more pages on it before I decided you didn’t want to read all that. So, here are a few observations:
- “Discipleship” is simple, but so much discussion and so many opinions have complicated it for most Christians.
- “Disciple” means “Christian”. It isn’t a different level of Christian maturity, it isn’t optional, it is simply “Christian”. So, only disciples are Christians.
- The Bible makes discipleship clear: it is the process of becoming like Jesus.
I would be happy to talk about these points with anyone who would like to, but I suspect a better contribution here would be to give a basic illustration of how God has built us. After that, I will devote the next few weeks to a series of articles describing aspects of discipleship, and how we can strengthen these in our lives.
There have been many programs developed over the years to “grow” Christians. They aren’t necessarily bad, but they frequently miss one central point: God created us to grow and be healthy. That means growth and health are our natural state. So why are so many who claim the name of Christ not healthy and growing?
To illustrate, let’s talk about plants. My wife is a plant person—she has the proverbial “Green Thumb”. Years ago she tried to brighten my office by bringing plants. For a couple of years she went through a cycle. She would bring the plants to my office, then two to three months later she would come and pick up the dead plants and replace them. After a while, she decided to be merciful and stop bringing the plants.
Why did they die? God created them to grow—under the right circumstances. He built into their DNA a response to the right amount and quality of sunlight, water, temperature, soil, etc. If we provide these—and protect them from injury—the plants thrive. If we don’t. They don’t.
Donna does, and they thrive. I didn’t. They died.
God built us the same way—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Growth and health are the natural state for us. But, if we don’t have the right “sunlight, water, temperature, soil, etc.”, or we are injured, we don’t grow. We aren’t healthy. We may even die. This isn’t legalism or a mechanical approach—it is faithfulness to God’s plan. He is faithful and can be trusted. We need only to obey Him and provide the Essential elements for spiritual growth.
In a few days my next article will explore the most important of these: worship. I hope you’ll join me.