Archive for December 2008

the what and how of discipleship?

December 16, 2008

I have been debating this question a lot lately and i need help.  One friend says that discipleship is defined by Jesus in Matt 28 – ‘…teaching them to obey everything i have commanded you.’  If this is what discipleship is then logically the how of discipleship is simply the study of scripture where we can learn the commands of God and then obey them.  This is not a bad argument, i even kind of agree.  But it leaves me a bit cold.

I guess what bugs me is that if this is how i approach discipleship with another person then my goal for them and their goal for me is that we would be people who are obedient to God.  This is a good thing, but it is only a good thing if obedience is not seen as an end in itself and i fear that too often it is.  If my goal for you is that you would simply be someone who obeys God then my goal for you is much less than God’s goal for you.  And that seems like a foolish thing and a bit sad.  I sometimes have a picture of God telling us to do certain things or to live in certain ways and deep down i feel like the reason he is doing so is because i’m his child now and he doesn’t want me to be an embarrassment to him.  But surely this is not the heart of God the Father.

God wants us to know life to the full.  God wants us to know Him.  He wants us to know all that he offers us, the depth of love that he lavishes on us.  His commands are invitations to this, invitations to knowing him. This is why when another friend defined discipleship as ‘helping people comprehend the love of God.’ i kind of got a lot more excited.  If this is true then the how of discipleship is rooted in the bible for sure, but it involves so much more than studying the bible with people.  Perhaps it is to live the bible with people.

Jesus did so much more than teach the disciples.  That was a significant part of it, but he loved them and they felt it, he served them, he gave them vision, hope, he fought for them, he challenged them… He did life with them.

I’m not sure what i make of all this, maybe i’m being flakey, but there wouldn’t be anything better for me than being able to look back on my life and say that somehow i’d helped people more fully comprehend the love of God.  Because it is only then that we will become people who truly obey Christ not because of our efforts to do so but because of the transformation that occurs in us as we bring all areas of our heart and life into the light of his love and grace.

maybe we’re all saying the same thing and this is a waste of time, but it helps me process so deal with it!