Congratulations!!! You have surrendered your life to the Lord – woohoo! All of heaven throws a ‘partay’ because one more precious heart has been adopted into the family! And the after party now consists of sitting around and waiting for you to be done on earth, join them to start your eternal life in heaven, and prep for the next party, right? I mean, isn’t that what it means to be “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses?” (Hebrews 12:1). Everyone’s sitting around–staring, and–checking their watches (because heaven clearly runs on Central Standard Time). Goodness, no! You have just gone from death to life; the rest of your life on earth is not a spiritual purgatory. Each moment after salvation is a gift that you may know your Life Giver more and more and share that hope with others saved and unsaved. Any day not seeking Him or sharing Him is a day wasted. So, are we to then incorporate the “Romans Road” into every conversation? If you are that talented, be my guest, but I don’t think that is what we are going for here. Instead, our new goal is righteousness as Paul speaks of in Philippians 3. We will never reach perfection on this side of heaven, but our goal is still nothing short of Jesus Christ–to live as He lived, love as He loved, serve as He served, and point everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, to His gospel and the Father.
That sounds like a great mission statement, but where to begin? Let’s try discipleship. It is what stunts churches large and small from exponential spiritual growth. It changes a culture of gossip to a culture of edification. It turns large, cold churches into places of hospitality and community. It changes small traditional churches into little thriving multigenerational gatherings of deep spiritual heritage. Discipleship was one of the last words spoken by the Messiah as He ascended into heaven, so to say that it is important is a slight understatement. There are numerous biblical passages that reference discipleship, but I want to specifically pull from II Timothy 2.
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also…And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (v. 1, 24-25) Let’s take a deeper look.
“…entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others…”
The use of “entrust” leads to a few ideas. First, understanding the gospel is a treasure. Second, Paul implies that the men he is speaking to see the value of the gospel. Third, it is not to be handed out like free samples. There is investment (*hint, hint*-discipleship) involved in sharing this information. And the goal is that these faithful men (and women) will turn around and entrust the gospel to others as well – creating a cycle of discipleship.
“…and the Lord’s servant…”
Part of the Christian life is being freed from sin and bound to Christ. In a sense, we are bound to freedom. Discipleship is not a one-and-done task; it is the overflow of a lifestyle.
“…must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone…”
If Christ were allowed request of the Father, what would it be? In the moments before his arrest and execution, I believe he let us peer into His deepest heart’s desire. God, speaking to God, asked “that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me…I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:21,23). Unity. His ultimate will was unity of all men, and mankind’s unity inside a holy God. One of Christ’s greatest attributes, if they could be ranked, would be unconditional love: loving the mere existence of someone. In beginning discipleship, the discipler must love expecting nothing in return. If a heart continues to reject the gospel of Christ, is that person any less lovable? If a Christian sister is broken over sin but continues to turn back to it over and over again, is she a lost cause? Or do you choose to wisely love unconditionally? There is a choice not to enable sin but to endure it and its consequences as you are walking through it with your sister constantly pointing her to dependence on Christ. And in any of these scenarios, the Lord did not consider us an unlovable, lost cause; so who are we to consider ourselves greater than Christ? So one of the key components of pure discipleship is unconditional love.
“…able to teach…”
Are you daily in the Word of the Lord? If you are faced with a teaching moment, are your thoughts filtered through Scripture, or are they from your natural (also sin-bent) self? The more Scripture that you memorize and understand, the more equipped and beneficial you will be at any given moment to teach. However, do not let the lack of knowledge keep you from speaking truth. No one becomes a Bible scholar overnight. The Lord does not honor your knowledge, he didn’t with the Pharisees, but He will honor an obedient heart. If you seek Him in His Word daily, you will be surprised at the understanding the Holy Spirit will equip you with in a moment of need. It is as though the Holy Spirit, an active person of the Trinity, has all the knowledge of God and can make it available to you or something…weird, right? He is asking for your humble willingness to seek Him and teach when He calls you to speak.
“…patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”
This final thought points back to the unconditional love of our Lord. He came to make clear the commandment of God, fulfill the law of God, and as a result make available the love and acceptance of God. He came to seek and save the lost, not push them away or render them a lost cause. The world we live in is overrun with sin, and its consequences penetrate and destroy natural order. However, the Lord is patient towards sin in order that more lost hearts may grow and be saved from it (Matthew 13:24-30). If our Lord is that patient, can we not attempt to be? We are not to accept sin because it is a direct offense to our loving Father, but we are to meet people where they are, reach their hearts, and communicate to them that the Lord may redeem them. You cannot be afraid of sin because you have the Victor over sin residing within you!
In the Church
As you can clearly see, discipleship is highly relational. It is what brings new members into the family of Christ, and it is the means by which the body of Christ remains unified. Have you prayerfully considered a younger lady that the Lord is leading you to disciple? You will not be perfect, only Jesus was, so do not let that fear paralyze you. It will become a place that you may very well learn more than you teach, and that is nothing to be ashamed of! It is quite a beautiful picture of the Lord’s grace to His obedient children.
And equally as important, have you prayerfully considered an older woman to disciple you? If not, you are robbing an older sister and yourself of a joy. You need to be biblically poured into, have a set of loving ears, and have someone graciously point out your shortcomings so that you may further push into Christ. This woman is learning just like you, so it is important to pray for her as you know you need prayer in your discipleship.
Day one of your eternity began the moment you surrendered your life to the Lord, and every day since has been part of your unique mission for the Kingdom of God. Are you being a good steward with your eternity? Have you dived into the cycle of discipleship? If so, relish the gift and don’t take it for granted. If not, it is time to obey the command of the Lord in making disciples. Step forward in obedience also knowing that it may be one of the most strenuously rewarding undertakings of your life.
Lord, thank You for this gift of salvation, and help me to live with eternity in mind. Allow me the opportunity to disciple others, and please provide an older sister to disciple me. Keep Yourself always in the forefront of my mind as an example of pure and perfect discipleship.