Living Life Together (Part 1)
“Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
Our Lord Jesus has commanded us to make disciples (Matt 28:19). Many of us desire to make disciples, but the way we think about discipleship is influenced by what we ourselves have experienced in the church, which may or may not be Biblical. When we seek the Biblical view of discipleship, we learn that discipleship is intentional, deep, gospel-centered, and involves the sharing of our very lives with one another for the sake of growing in Christ.
Discipleship is not a professional activity, it consists of more than a scheduled meeting once per week with an individual, yet this the experience many Christians have had in the past. This is a faulty understanding of discipleship that can rob the practice of the power that God has intended for it to have. God has given us relationships to sharpen and build one another to Christ-like maturity.Discipleship involves inviting people into our real, everyday lives.
This could look like inviting someone to join you while you run errands, while you clean the house, do the laundry, cook, do stuff around the house, fix the vehicle, etc. And at the same time as you are doing these everyday normal things, you can still focus on intentionally edifying and encouraging the person you are with. In our busy lives, this understanding of discipleship prevents us from making the excuse that we are too busy for discipleship.The commands of discipleship in Titus 2.1-10Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) point to this truth. Older men and women are called to intentionally teach younger men and women how to live these Biblical callings out- through BOTH our words, and our example.
Practical aspects of life may seem less spiritual than deep spiritual conversations, but God’s word shows us that all things are spiritual, and that the gospel should impact every area of our lives. The way we conduct ourselves in our ‘normal’, everyday lives, should match what we claim about God and the gospel. Our lives testify to the power of the gospel that we preach. So by sharing our imperfect but transformed lives with others, we are a living testimony to them about God’s power to save and sanctify sinners, and we help them see the ways they can apply this grace to their own lives.Here are some suggestions I have for practically incorporating discipleship into your everyday lives: Invite people to join your family for a meal or outing, and let them build a relationship with your family. Let them observe your life in the home. Let them see the way you love and respect your spouse, the way you love your family, and the way you interact with your kids (or roommates, or friends). Living life together will certainly reveal your weaknesses, struggles, and sins, which it will give the person you are discipling an opportunity to see how you deal with them, how you repent, how you live out the gospel. This instruction is essential to the life of a believer.
As disciple-makers, if we do not allow our disciples to observe us in both our strong AND weak moments, we can cause despair in the lives of other believers. Despair because when they face struggles and weaknesses arise in their own lives, they may feel they have failed to match the ‘perfect’ version of ourselves we tried to show them. Instead, we should have deep and authentic discipleship relationships where we are a living testimony for them to see that God’s grace is powerful in our weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12.9)
Healthy discipleship relationships can take on many different forms, and even the same discipleship relationship may change over time as trust builds. As we live life with people, let’s make sure we are asking the hard questions, challenging each other, learning together, and being honest with one another, but let’s also not forget to have some fun. You don’t necessarily have to talk about the deep things of God every time you are together; instead let your whole relationship be centered on Jesus and his gospel.Sometimes discipleship a walk down to the soccer pitch. It can look like sitting in a room together, doing separate things. Maybe it involves them swinging by and doing some homework or reading while you do something else.