Part of our own discipleship is “paying it forward”: seeing God not only work in us, for our own discipleship, but also seeing him work through us, for others’ discipleship
The person and work of Jesus cannot remain as a mere mental construct, separate from the rest of life. The gospel changes us. It gives us new identities, goals, and pursuits. Jesus’s past, present, and future work redefine how we think, live, work, and act. Because of the gospel, we are disciples of Jesus. By the power of God, the life of a Christian is a life of learning from Jesus, following him, and “growing up in every way into him” (Eph 4:15). In other words, the life of a follower of Jesus is a life of obeying Jesus.
A New Perspective
When he called the first of his disciples, he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). They had been fishermen, but Jesus was calling them to fish for people. They responded by leaving everything—their families, their careers, their futures—to follow Jesus. It started in a boat and went out to the world. Those first disciples radically recentered everything in their lives around Jesus, his teaching, and his mission. Their lives became all about Jesus! He was that important to them.
Then, after he had trained them for more than three years, suffered and died for their sins, and rose from the grave, Jesus told them to meet him on a mountain before he ascended to heaven. On that mountain, he was going to give his final commission to them to make disciples of all people groups. Just as Jesus had called them to follow him, be changed by him, and obey him, he sent them out to call others to follow him as well. He was going to send them to the ends of the earth so that Jesus saturation might happen.
So they met Jesus on the mountain and worshiped him there, but some still doubted (Matt. 28:16-17). They were in, but not all in. Slow down and don’t miss this: Jesus’s disciples had seen everything they needed to see. Jesus had taught them all he needed to teach them. And they had experienced all they needed to experience with Jesus! And yet, some were still doubting. This is good news for me! Though I’ve walked with Jesus for more than twenty-four years, I still struggle with doubts. Maybe you do as well.
We’re not alone! The disciples were still in process—a process that would last their lifetimes. And the same is true of us. That is what discipleship is all about. It is the ongoing process of submitting all of life to Jesus, and seeing him saturate your entire life and world with his presence and power. It’s a process of daily growing in your awareness of your need for him in the everyday stuff of life. It is walking with Jesus, being filled with Jesus, and being led by Jesus in every place and in every way. Read the previous paragraph again—may this be a helpful definition of discipleship!
Paying it Forward
Once we start to realize that discipleship is an everyday, all-of-life process for our own lives, we’re halfway to understanding God’s call. The other half of that call is seen most clearly in the great commission, where God calls his people— all his people—to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Part of our own discipleship is “paying it forward”: seeing God not only work in us, for our own discipleship, but also seeing him work through us, for others’ discipleship. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us that a primary way we grow into maturity in Christ is through “speaking the truth in love” to and with each other (Eph 4:16). God didn’t design discipleship to primarily happen alone.
(Taken from Saturate Field Guide by Jeff Vanderstelt & Ben Connelly, ©2016 Saturate.)
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- Disciple-Making Starter
- How Can We Organize the Church to Make Disciples?
- What is Discipleship? (Course)