WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
I am beginning a teaching on being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. I figure it will take more that just a few blogs. Especially since we need to understand What Is Not a Disciple.
One of the facts that many people do not understand about Christianity is that it is not a religion. Unfortunately. that is what many believers make it. They hear about a Savior called Jesus. They are told if they receive Jesus into their heart and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they will be “saved” (rescued, preserved). They are taught to accept that Jesus died on the Cross for their sins, that He rose again on the third day, and that if they now confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord – that’s all there is.
All those things are true. Everything listed above is an absolute must. Yet many people treat it like an end point, and it’s not. You may say, “I know! I know! There are certain rules and regulations I must follow, like praying and reading the Bible and being obedient to the Ten Commandments. Right!” Yes, but believe this: There is one thing even more important than the rules and regulations, the reading the Bible, or obeying the Ten Commandments (good luck with that one, by the way….). The fact is that the Christian faith is a RELATIONSHIP, not a religion. When we understand that most important part, that ONE THING, then we realize that everything else listed is just the beginning.
When we look at the Christian Faith as a mere religion, even if we are committed to it, the focus becomes more and more on us, more and more on what we are doing; and it becomes less and less about God and what He did through the finished work of Christ on the Cross. We focus more and more on the rules we are keeping or not keeping. We begin looking around and becoming judgmental about what others are doing or not doing. Even worse, we come to the point where many (even in the church leadership) start prioritizing the rules and their importance based on how good the people are who are breaking them…..When see the Christian faith as merely a religion, we become so self- centered that we could care less and less about the work God wants to do through us. (That is, if we are in fact at all committed).
For many who are marginally committed or not committed at all, when the Christian faith is just a religion, they still call themselves a Christian. When a pollster asks them what their religion is, they may answer, “Christian.” Yet, they actually look around and see that all other religions have so-called leaders, rules, and regulations, and say to themselves, “What’s really the difference?” But they do want to hold on to their fire insurance – just in case.
When we come to the point where we take seriously the fact that our faith in the Resurrected and Living Lord Jesus Christ is a RELATIONSHIP – and that the confession of faith and study of life teachings is just the beginning – we are then at the point of growing, not just in the faith, but into the abundant life that Jesus gives. The Christian faith is a lot like other relationships. It can’t grow unless you hang out with the person in whom you claim to be in relationship.
So, how do you grow? 1) You STUDY His Word, the Bible. The Bible is not a rule book. It is a biography. It tells the love story of a Holy and Righteous God and how He wants His best for His creation. How He works to provide His best for His creation. It is an instruction book on how to have a relationship with a Holy and Just God. Please understand this, it is a relational instruction book on how YOU can have a RELATIONSHIP with GOD! Not on how GOD can have a relationship with you.
From the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation it reveals the LOVE, the GRACE, the HOPE, and the MERCY of God toward His creation. 2) You PRAY. I know sometimes this can be more intimidating than reading the Bible. I have been around people who can pray the most beautiful prayers. You feel like your walking in a garden with the Almighty when these people pray. My wife prays some of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard. My prayers are simple and methodical, no poetry to them at all. I don’t love the way I sound when I pray aloud. But there is good news here. God loves wondrous variety in prayer – He doesn’t care what it “sounds like.” All He cares about is that you, His beloved, are spending time with Him. 3) You LISTEN. Prayer is not a one-sided conversation, just talking to God. Prayer is also listening to God. Spend a few moments in quiet rest. Listen with your heart. He will guide you. 4) You FOLLOW HIM. Don’t ask, “What would Jesus do?” Ask Jesus what is He doing and then GO WITH HIM! We have too many misled people out there doing what they think Jesus wants them to do. Working really hard to grow and be better for Him. You want to grow? Then grow WITH Him. Because it is impossible to grow without your being in HIS PRESENCE!
AMEN for today. We will pick up next time with the Rule of Ten.
Remember to pray Psalm 91 in the first person.