We Need More Discipleship!
6 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer[a] is overcome by some sin, you who are godly[b] should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Geez Louise… What a great reminder, in a way only the beloved Paul; the Apostle could write. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
I am chuckling to myself as I let these words sink in again today. In our western self promoting culture these words are a balm to the soul for anyone who would receive them. It’s such a good and needed reminder. I am not that important… Here’s the thing, if you read those words and feel a sense of shame or anger then you may not understand the point Paul is trying to make. You unto yourself are not all that impressive, otherwise you would not have needed a perfect Savior. You, like me, are bound to your flesh and live under the constant pressure and temptation of the world. It’s only by God’s immeasurable grace in your life that you're not headed to destruction. Forgetting these simple facts of our faith, positions us to be unable to effectively walk with people in their faith journey, and creates a discipleship backlog in the Church at large. To be an effective disciple as Jesus has called you to be, you must first get real with yourself as you do life with people around you.
I have found in my years, in the Church, there is a perpetual echo from unsettled people that sounds like this… “ We need more discipleship.”
I understand that, Yes, the Church needs to be engaged and actively discipling. The mistake in that phrase is discipleship is not something that some leader or pastor should, or can, add or subtract from church life. It’s not like gasoline in the tank of a car you can add to go further. Discipleship is an action we are all responsible for and is either something a believer is doing, or isn't doing. Discipleship is inviting people into your REAL life so that they can see a living Jesus manifest through you. Discipleship looks like walking with other people into the real scenarios of life. Giving people an opportunity to see how you invite Jesus into your life as they do the same in theirs. This is really not possible until each of us is willing to reconcile the fact that we are not that impressive and that our un-impressiveness is actually what makes God’s grace look so attractive. If you try to program that into a church or put the burden on a leader or pastor to manufacture it, you will always end up with a shallow and a religious form of discipleship. Are discipleship programs evil? No, of course not! They serve a limited purpose in the right context. Unfortunately, the human heart is evil, and is also prone to wander. When given the opportunity to hide we hide, even in a church community. The fall of man has hardwired us to put forward only the parts of ourselves we want others to see. If you really want to disciple people like Jesus did, allow people into your life. Extend to them the same grace that you have experienced, as you walked out of sin in your own relationship with Jesus. Be honest with yourself as you continue in this same process within community. Without life on life relationships, discipleship can only happen as far as it is programmed. Programmed discipleship more often than not, produces disciples who have lots of knowledge and who have become experts at concealing their brokenness from the people they are doing life with. It’s the ultimate form of legacy religion. False relationships passed from generation to generation.
This is why we do Life Groups at First Church. Every week, you are given the opportunity to fellowship, learn with, worship with and get real with an authentic group of people. Lifegroups, as intended, give space for the Holy Spirit to reveal and heal the parts of us that we have gotten used to hiding from other people. I have found, as a pastor, the pressure to hide in community and build a false sense of importance in front of your peers only intensifies with gained influence. I am thankful that I have a Life Group that I can be real with. I am thankful that I have people who are doing real life with me. Discipling me, as I disciple them. This is how we truly grow before the Lord. So let me finish this advertisement for joining a Life Group by saying this. If hiding your junk and walking in a false sense of importance through programmed discipleship actually worked, then the American Church would have evangelized the entire world by now. The truth is this, it doesn't work. So let’s be different, let’s disciple as Jesus modeled in the Gospels. Walking in vulnerability, before people who actually get to see the real you.