Discipleship: Keep It Simple (Part I)

name lost in internet. Seems to be Mystic Marr...
name lost in internet. Seems to be Mystic Marriage of Christ and the Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Increasingly, I am coming to see that the essence of discipleship
is simply to live as Jesus did. If we are truly serious about pursuing an
authentic Christian spirituality, then everything we do must be Christ-driven.
And it will not be difficult for us to ascertain how well we are progressing
along our walk of faith. All we need to do is observe ourselves as we go about
our daily rounds and see to what extent our lives are beginning to resemble the
one Jesus modeled for us.


We need not get too obsessive about this evaluation. Instead, all
we need to do is take an honest inventory of the extent our daily lives
manifest principles such as love, compassion, service to others, obedience to
God, discipline, integrity, honor, humility, etc. We must ask ourselves, “To
what extent am I living as Christ lived?” If we have difficulty developing a
list of Christ-like traits, we might use the nine “fruit of the Spirit” listed
by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
and self-control. Another possible list of
character assets can be found in 2 Peter 1:5-7: faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance,
godliness, brotherly kindness,
and love.


I have come to firmly believe that making every attempt to live
such a life constitutes the most rewarding life possible. God loves us,
scripture assures us that nothing can separate us from that love (Romans 8:28),
and ultimately, God is in control. What I personally draw from these facts is that
no matter what might be going on, no matter how dark a situation may appear, in
the end, things will work out. Believing this and trusting in God’s love and
provision, I can therefore let go of many petty worries and concerns, stop
wasting vital energy, and instead, devote myself to the task at hand: living as Christ lived. I especially
like what Johnnie Moore says regarding making a decision to live such a life:


“What if we decided that to the best of our ability, we would no
longer live a hypocritical, halfhearted Christianity that results in unbelief
and disappointment? What if we decided to not be lukewarm? What if we took all
the energy we spend in doubt and frustration and used it to trust and believe?
What if we went on a pursuit to actually answer our nagging questions instead
of using them as excuses to avoid commitment? What if we chose to run toward
God even when our disappointment with hypocrisy threatens to chase us away from
him? What if we decided to actually live what we believe to the extent that
people’s destinies are changed and Christ is more famous because of Christians
and not in spite of them?”


Our superficial approach to discipleship has created a culture of
shallow and hollow faith that leaves genuine spiritual seekers frustrated and
empty. Is it any wonder these seekers are leaving the church in droves due to
their inability to find authentic spiritual experience in its sanctuaries? Dick
Staub doesn’t pull any punches as he describes this process:


“Today, most of what we call spiritual searching is in fact a sham
and a vain exercise better described as pseudo-seeking. We seek and do not find
because we seek a God who will improve our life and make us happy without
making any demands on us . . . . . . . . . . We seek and do not find because
our superficial culture trivializes all that it touches, including our ideas of
God and the spiritual. Euphemisms like “the man upstairs,” vagaries like
“higher power,” print ads for a product named “Eternity,” a TV ad for Direct TV
announcing that “someone up there is watching you,” a commercial for a resort
claiming that it is “like heaven without the long term commitment,” or any one
of hundreds of inane interviews with celebrities about their latest faddish
dalliance with the “god in me”; all these shallow glosses on God and the
spiritual obscure what is truly involved in the deeper inner wellness available
through the pursuit of a transcendent yet imminent deity.”

The fact is many of
us have grown quite comfortable with this superficial approach to discipleship.
Making a sold-out, no-holds-barred commitment to Christ resulting in a
willingness to do whatever it takes to go deeper in our walk of faith has
become an alien concept in the contemporary Body of Christ. Jesus warned those
considering becoming his disciple to count the cost of obedience to his
teaching and his way of life. I am increasingly dismayed that complacency has
become the gold standard in today’s church and further, many Christians do not
count the cost of discipleship because they have never been taught the true
ramifications of obedience.

To be continued:

(c) L.D. Turner/2013


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