Today we talked about what a fully devoted disciple of Jesus looks like, and a good bit about evangelism. When I was a youth pastor, I had an idea of what I wanted my students to look like, and that would indicate proper spiritual growth, something that I could measure. Read more on what I shared in the class (How to Spot a Disciple of Jesus). But as you can see in that article, I helped my students look more like Jesus’ chief opponents rather than those first disciples.
So, upon reconsideration over the past decade, I have come to realize that there must be a better criteria in which to measure the spiritual growth of followers of Jesus Christ. On May 18 we talked about what a disciple should really look like. It may be harder to measure, but I sense it is more accurate that turning people in Pharisees.
A Fully Devoted Disciple of Jesus is Actively:
Depending on the Spirit: A person who is actively depending on the Holy Spirit to transform and empower him/her to walk as Jesus walked (John 14:26). The person must recognize from where the power to live a Christian life comes, it is not by one’s own will and determination. The Holy Spirit takes up residence and transforms the follower into the image of Christ, walking as Jesus walked.
Interacting in Community: A person who is actively interacting with other believers in a small group for mutual care and spiritual formation (John 13:35). The only way to express love is in community, love is demonstrative. Love defines the believer.
I mentioned the concept of mutual care, and it just doesn’t happen in corporate worship, it is the small group that cares for its members, like a family. I would hope that if the pastor shows up at the hospital, you might be worse off than the doctors were letting on. Also, in real life… many people might have 25 visits from people that week, but if the pastor didn’t come see them, they’re disappointed. It is so sad that the visits of 25 people didn’t count in this person’s eyes. It is time to decentralize pastoral care, and get it back where it belongs, in the small group.
Spiritual formation is another area that we cannot measure in a large group corporate context. It is in the context of a small group that we see progress and victories. It is also here where we share struggles and failures. If you want to grow, you must become vulnerable with a select few other people, those who have your back and are looking out for you. It is called accountability.
Submitting to His Lordship: A person who is actively submitting to Christ’s Lordship in every area of his/her life (Luke 6:46). While this is never an all-or-nothing proposition, we must intentionally decide to turn over known areas to his lordship. That means making needed changes in our lives to reflect new ownership. When the boss tells you what to do this week and at the end of the week he comes back to see your progress only to discover you decided to do something totally different. You might not be employed there much longer. But how do we treat the Creator of the universe? Often with self-styled obedience, doing what we choose and hoping he will bless it.
Communing with the Father: A person who is actively developing intimacy with God through the spiritual disciplines (John 8:31). We must continue in God’s Word in order to know who he is and what he wants from us. Communion is so important, it is more than just following a set of rules. We pray in order to open ourselves for God to reveal himself and his will through his word. A disciple will be communing on a regular basis, not just a Sunday at 11:00 binge.
Investing His Resources: A person who actively sees himself/herself as a steward of his/her resources (time, treasure & talents) rather than an owner, and invests them to advance God’s work (Matthew 6:20-21). It comes down to stewardship, recognizing that God is the owner of everything and we are charged to care for it, being responsible with all he has entrusted to us.
Participating in Service: A person who is actively participating in acts of service toward those inside and outside the church for the glory of God (Matthew 20:27-28). We are moved by the Great Commandment, to love God and to love others. We talked about service and how we often are motivated to serve Jesus, when in fact this verse tells us that Jesus did not come to be served. So why do we feel the need to serve Jesus? Let’s change our focus to serving others. Matthew 25:40 mentions that when we do things for the least of these our brothers, we actually do them for Jesus. So, let’s serve others as we would serve Jesus himself.
Leading People to Christ: A person who is actively seeking opportunities to share his/her faith with lost people through his/her personal style of evangelism (John 4:35). Many people feel that evangelism is all about drawing the net of decision, or covering the gospel presentation outline, but we often forget that Jesus has called us to be witnesses. A witness simply tells what he knows or has seen. Telling your own story of salvation is one way, telling what insight from Scripture you discovered this week is another. We ALL can tell our story and prove to be a witness of Christ.
However, there comes a time when someone may ask about how they too might enter into a relationship with Christ, and become a disciple of Jesus. It takes more than your testimony here, so it is important to actually know a plan of salvation (Four Spirituals Laws, Evangelism Explosion, CWT, the Romans Road, the single verse John 3:16). Think about ways that God is moving in your life, and look for opportunities to put in a good word for Jesus.
Expanding the Kingdom: A person who is actively committed to a ministry of multiplication both here at home and abroad (Matthew 6:33). It is so important to have a kingdom mindset; where we see life in light of God’s plan for the nations. When we do that, we see how he is moving through his servants and cannot help but ask how we can be involved in what God is doing. Henry Blackaby said to see where God is at work and join him there (refer to the Experiencing God posts from 2013). Jesus truly is our model!