Throughout the last couple of months, we have been going through a discipleship course. As we have been going through this course I have been encouraged, challenged and reminded what true discipleship is. Discipleship is the process in which one believer that is more mature in faith brings along another believer, anew believer, or not a believer at all closer to God, through grounding them in Truth and the Word of God.
True discipleship is grounded in the Word and in Truth (truth with a capital T, not lower case). Not grounded in opinions and personal goals. Now, don’t get it confused, personal goals are something that can be used to grow, but they are not the complete goal. The true and complete goal of discipleship is to become closer to God, both you and the disciple you are meeting with (whether informal or formal), to become like Him (we cannot attain perfection, but we can try to be holy (1 Peter 1:14-19). To follow examples, the perfect example being Jesus, the one who is holy (holy means to be set apart from things of this world, i.e. sin). One illustration that I love using when it comes to discipleship is that of the apprenticeship of a blacksmith. A blacksmith has his or her own way of doing things, then an apprentice comes along to learn the vocation. During this time the expert blacksmith comes alongside the apprentice, teaching them all they have learned and developed over the years. The apprentice learns from the expert and then goes off and does his own thing becoming an expert in his/her own way of blacksmithing.
In this illustration, the apprentice does not copy exactly what the expert does, but learns through example and teaching from the expert, then trying it in his own way from the teachings of the expert. Developing his/her own system of doing things aside from the blatant things that are supposed to be cemented in the work of blacksmithing. It is the expert's job in this case to correct the things that are blatantly wrong or create a concern of some sort and to help them fix those things and do the job right, they are responsible for the skill translating to another person well. The same (mostly) goes for discipleship.
Although illustrations are not completely fitting nor are they perfect by any means, particularly in this case where the “expert” would apply to the discipler, that is not the case at all, you could even argue that in the “vocation” of life we are all apprentices trying to point each other to the true expert, being God.
In discipleship, there are tools we use, and tactics we can take to point one another in the direction of Christ-likeness, just as there are tools in a blacksmith shop. The hammer, the anvil, and the fire. For discipling it is the Bible, prayer, conversation, and books to name a few. We use these resources to engage our thinking process and challenge ourselves to things we didn’t know, or remind ourselves of a truth we once forgot.
Using those tools helps us do the work that is needed for the growth of ourselves and for the growth of another individual. In discipling, although materials are helpful, the true teacher is example leadership. You can know all the Scripture in the Word of God, but if you don’t apply it in a way that is biblical and others see it, are you being the best example you can be? Discipleship is not easy. You must take the high road; that person that cut you off? Love them. That McDonalds order that you got but was wrong, love that worker. Your disciple sees that. The way you respond to situations speaks volumes in the way of discipleship. Knowledge and books get you far, but actions get you further. Show others you care about them and what God is teaching you, get excited that someone is searching for a mentor! Invite them to your house, have dinner with a family, play board games with them, make use of that dinner table! Shut off the TV, put down your phones. What you invest is what you get out.
Understand though, discipleship is nothing to be played with. Discipleship is not a toy to play with someone's eternity or beat around the bush. Discipleship is something we are commanded to do by GOD. God wants us to do this so that people see that we are different, in addition to people seeing the difference HE made in US. Discipleship is the teaching of young and new believers or non-believers to know and see Christ better. Discipleship is authentic, opening of one's self to others to show the goodness of God and the failings of man. We disciple to make Christ known and ourselves less known so that others may know the goodness of God.
For a personal story, I was in youth group at AABC for the entirety of my time in high school and throughout middle school as well (not in that order). At that time I had disciplers. People who came alongside me and showed me God and what God wanted for me. During that time I wasn’t always perceptive, nor did I pay attention much. But, through God using people throughout that time in my life and even now, He showed me that the people who discipled me cared for my well being enough for me to call them at 3 A.M. because I needed help in a battle I was having. Through discipleship God showed Himself to me through the hardships that I heard my disciplers going through. Through discipleship, I was able to see God and want to follow Him more. Catch this, that was fifteen years ago when the process started.
If you’re not in it for the long haul, then it’s gonna be a long road ahead. We’re commanded to do this, if we truly love God, we will want even our worst enemy to follow Him. Everyone needs Jesus, without Him we are lost. Discipleship is a way to show others He is faithful and present. Discipleship is how the Gospel spreads.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
And what are we fishing for? People! (Matthew 4:19)