From March 1998
- Discouragement (Despair)
- Deliverance (again)
- Delight (on and on and on)
- Private Prayer
- Time Alone Time in Community
- Time Away
- Scripture (en mass)
- Reassess your Routine
- Prayer with Friends
PHASES— #4, Discipleship
Welcome to the Christian life!
The word DISCIPLE is from “Old English, from Latin discipulus ‘a learner,’ from discere ‘to learn’; reinforced by Old French deciple; to follow. Same root to DISCIPLINE ones self.
To be a disciple is to be a learner; it means to sit at the feet of one more learned than yourself and to listen to them, to learn from them.
Following deliverence and delight, the next thing you will experience in your Christian journey is discipleship. That is, a deep desire to know more about Jesus and the context for His leadership in your life. You will hunger to follow His precepts for living, His teachings, His admonistions to live a righteous life within a society that has rejected most, if not everything, of what He represents. Some of the things you will learn are—
1. Christian faith is much larger than you may have first surmised. It holds a grandeur that exceeds the simple recognitions of trust and forgiveness. It is a way of viewing and living life that extends well beyond the limitations of human intellect and the vastness of the universe itself.
2. It is learning your place, your role, in the grand scheme of things. The Lord has designed you to make a difference on this planet. How will you discover what that is?
3. It is taking on the role of a Servant; not when you feel like it, but even when you don’t. We who claim the name of Jesus grow through serving others and in worship of God. How are you doing with that?!?
4. Righteousness comes more readily as you accept the Father’s design for your life. The more you allow God to sculpture your life the more your desires will coincide with His. We are declared righteous, and so we will grow into it…, one way or another.
5. You will be able to bear more suffering in your walk of faith. Yes, suffering. Whether from those who reject and ridicule Jesus Christ, or from those who claim His Name and find your faith warrants some correction. Consider first the extent to which they might be right in their judgment; Then turn to the Lord for either admonishment or vindication.
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is first and foremost to sit at His feet…, and to learn. Never confuse this with anything else.
Growing in grace and forgiveness,
Welcome to the Christian life!
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”–Tertullian
In the first few centuries, Christianity grew quickly. By AD100, it had become mostly Gentile and had begun to break from its Jewish origins. By 200, the faith had permeated most regions of the Roman Empire, though Christians were mostly in the larger urban areas (Gaul, Lyons, Carthage, Rome). By 325, an estimated 7 million were Christians with as many as 2 million killed for the faith.”http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/anceint_christian_martyrdom.htm
The Martyrdom of Stephen, (only 36 at the time of his death) spurred many “Christ Followers” to deeper understanding of the cost of their salvation. Is this what you’ve sighed up for?
Throughout these next few months I will set forth the various Phases of the Christian life, as I see them. Granted, there are many more, or fewer; this is only one early 21st Century writers perspective. Enjoy.
Here is my list of the Phases of the Christian life we will explore.
|1. Deliverence||6. Discouragement|
|2. Delight||7. Decisions|
|3. Discipleship||8. Dedication|
|4. Distraction||9. Deliverence (again)|
|5. Disillusion||10. Delight|
For now, let’s start with the admission that if everything in your life of faith is static, solid, and unchanging, you are not growing in your newfound faith. You are pretending or hiding or deceiving yourself. The Christian life is not a static, once-for-all-time thing. It is a fluid work of art in constant flux.
Get used to it.
What are the different kinds of love? The ancient Greeks had at least six words (categories) for love—
EROS, or sexual passion. Not always a safe form of love at that; often considered dangerous loss of control.
PHILIA, or deep friendship. Denoting deep comradery, loyalty, and sacrifice for the other.
LUDUS, or playful love. As between children or young lovers. Or cheerful banter in a local pub.
AGAPE, or love for everyone. Selfless love, extended to all people and even distant strangers.
PRAGMA, or longstanding love. The deep-understanding that develops between married couples. It conveys the compromises we make over time to make a relationship work. Patience. Forgiveness.
PHILAUTIA, or love of self. Describes a love that can be an unhealthy self-obsessed narcissism, OR, a love wherein you are secure in yourself, enabling you to have a greater capacity to love others.
As with much of Western Philosophy, compound concepts are grouped under a single word. Thus, the above may be helpful for your understanding, but if we simply recall the numerous relationships we have, it should be obvious that love takes on many shapes. In each love shape the feelings are different, the expressions are different. So also are the degrees of commitment.
Love cannot be discussed solely in a conceptual realm. We need to drag it down to earth, to more human surroundings. When we start talking about love at this level, it forces us to become eminently practical. It is not erroneous to say that to understand love one must first love. So if we are to have any meaningful discussion on love, it truly helps to be in love— with a spouse, a partner, a child, a friend, even a dog. Hopefully, the “other” is reciprocating in some manner which feeds your soul.
So if you want to get into this discussion, ponder the different people you love. How is each love different? How would you describe each feeling? Each different expression? If they all feel the same then something is wrong. If you are expressing your love for your wife the same as you express your love for your car, believe me, something is terribly wrong.
NEXT DISCUSSION: Why does love even exist?!?
Let’s make love an action verb,
Many genuine Christians in this postChristian era still do not comprehend the extent to which the influence of the Christian message has lost its hearing in Western Culture. The mighty dollar is the new God of choice. Power is the new religion; whatever it takes to stay alive or succeed is the practice of faith.
Christianity has lost sway over people’s lives, government decisions, and general morality. What genuine Christianity is flourishing here is doing so outside the mainstream cultural inclinations. But we are not at odds with our culture; we have been subsumed within its values so fully that we are barely noticeable; unless, of course, one of us tries some lame-brained stunt to get noticed in the name of Jesus. Thus do we verify our culture’s judgment that we are irrelevant to anything that matters.
We are still sleeping when it comes to understanding what normal people genuinely think of us; if they think of us at all. To be fair, though, some of us are waking up to the reality that we are in the minority; at least in American culture (referring to the US). Most Christians in the USA still need to come to grips with the realities of the cultural changes and blurring-of-the-lines that has taken place. Do you want to know what people think of us?!? Ask them. Take time to build rich relationships with people around you who never, EVER go to church. Do you want the truth, or do you want to stay asleep…, in a permanent daze?
Let’s wake up and get involved in the lives of those who sit just on the fringes of our lives, who need Jesus.
Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,
A good friend of mine once said, “Life is painful. If you haven’t realized that yet you haven’t lived long enough.”
Life changes. So also do our perceptions of who we are and what we are yet to accomplish.
For example, when I was in my 20s I had a clear sense of calling—
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19, (NIV)
With great energy and enthusiasm I plunged into the depths of our world’s myriad throngs, making one mistake after another. I was so intent on proclaiming that I have spent a lifetime relearning how to communicate our faith so those who need our Lord can understand it. The message is the same, but its transference is now attuned to the culture, experiences, and nuances of those who hear it.
Today, Our Lord Christ reminds me that He is the One who fulfills our faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders (us) and the sin that so easily entangles (us). And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2, (NIV)
Christ Jesus will be the One who will draw all the peoples of the world to Himself. He will fulfill the Great Commission given to us. Nonetheless, we are the ones who are called to not loose heart, to stay the course, to throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that entangles, and to keep our focus on our Lord. If we tilt our glance to one side or the other we may believe that we are no longer in the race. I assure you, we are.
Of a truth, I must admit to some discouragement and weariness along the way. Sometimes I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel and say, enough! All I hear back from God is, “Really! That’s interesting.”
Get the point? You are not the one who gets to decide when your calling, your race, is over. Do not mess with the God Who made you. It’s way too dangerous.
Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,