Welcome back! This week we’re talking about being a disciple which is the basis for this podcast so I probably should have done this podcast earlier, but I didn’t, so let’s get started.
I view discipleship in two ways. Personal discipleship or being a disciple of Jesus and discipling others or group discipleship. Being a disciple is us imitating Mary in John 14? We are sitting at the feet of Jesus and we are learning what it means to love him and let him be part of our lives. Group discipleship is when we are learning with others in what Gregg Ogden calls a micro group of no more than four people. Our example for the group style is Peter, James, and John again with Jesus. Jesus set these guys apart and they in turn lead the others.
Being a Disciple
Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (Affiliate Link)
That was written by Richard Foster in 1978. I read that paragraph for the first time 20 years ago when I was leading a monthly men’s book study. That paragraph started me down a road of fumbling and stumbling, fits and starts, and everything in between. I wanted to be a deep person. I can honestly say I have yet to become a deep person, but I have become a changed person.
Being a Disciple Takes Time
Personal Discipleship is the choice we make as Christians to grow in our relationship with God. Let’s face it, we can’t love God with all our heart, soul, and mind if we’re not spending time getting to know him. When we meet someone we like and want to get to know, we will go to any length to know them better. I have friends I make time to be with, every month because I want to know them deeper, not just as acquaintances.
In Luke 10 we read the story of Mary and Martha. Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear his teaching. Martha chose to prepare the food and exhibit hospitality to their guests. I don’t think Martha was any less a follower of Christ than Mary. Mary made a very specific choice to devote herself to be as close to Christ as she could and learn directly from him at that moment. We see this happen again when Jesus returns to their home after he raises Lazarus from the dead. John 12 says that Mary anointed his feet with oil and dried them with her hair as Martha again serves the meal. Martha is not doing anything wrong, Mary is CHOOSING the better according to Jesus.
I get it. Someone has to serve the meals. Someone has to go to work every day and make enough money to support a family. Nothing is wrong with working and making money. I think the reason I have to qualify this so hard is that we have lost all sense of what being a disciple really is. Giving up a little of our free time each day to just sit and share life with God through the Holy Spirit isn’t asking a lot. I think it is what I am about to say next that people find hard to hear.
Being a Disciple Takes Self-Denial
In a 2011 article titled, Self-Described Christians Dominate America but Wrestle with Four Aspects of Spiritual Depth the Barna Group stated this
... most churches encourage people to engage in an increasing amount of religious activity, asking them to pour themselves into efforts related to the “core six” spiritual dimensions: worship, evangelism, discipleship, stewardship, service, and community. While growth in those areas is important, Barna expressed two related concerns. The first was that people often fail to realize that the end game of spiritual development is godly character, not worldly accomplishments. God does not need His followers to achieve things on His behalf in order for them to become more acceptable or valuable to Him. The research also indicated that sometimes people get so wrapped up in finishing church programs or producing specific religious resul...