Recently I’ve been asked to disciple some people, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what exactly that means. This is what I’ve come up with as a preliminary outline for the way I want to invite others to follow me as I follow Christ.
Real discipleship teaches HOW to, not WHAT to.
not WHAT to think, but HOW to think
not WHAT to know, but HOW to know
not WHAT to see, but HOW to see
Real discipleship leads you to ask better questions to get better answers.
Cookie cutter faith is shaky. When trouble comes, you’ll default to what comes naturally if you’ve simply memorized things. You have to come to honest conclusions and build your beliefs on them if you want them to stick and be part of you.
Before you begin a session with an open Bible, consider how these could help:
Set up some parameters: Pray.
Establish intention. Say, “God, I want to know You. I am coming before you here to understand the truth so it can set me free. Please reveal what I need to see. Teach me how to see, think and know.”
Cleanse the atmosphere. Say, “Lord God, guard my mind and heart from any influence other than Your voice. I command in Jesus’ mighty name that only His true voice may speak, and I open my ears now to hear and receive Your word to me.”
Invite Wisdom. Say, “It’s by Your Spirit that I am able to understand spiritual things; I’m limited to earthly perspectives here on my own. Father, please fill me with Your Spirit and teach me higher things from Your perspective. Tear down any beliefs that would keep me from hearing and knowing, believing and understanding Your word about things, and clear away the old debris. Establish Your perspective and eternal truth in my mind and heart today so I can walk in Your way.”
There’s major difference between religion and relationship...so imagine what could happen if you pictured Jesus sitting across from you on the other side of your open Bible!
He is a person! He is a teacher, a rabbi, someone who studies and understands Scripture that God provided for us to know Him by. (To be precise, He is the author of it.) Ask Him questions when you don't understand! He is your own friend and teacher-guide and He is right there. Just try it! This will personalize your experience like nothing else. You may find yourself falling in love with your teacher.
Contemplation, observance, appreciation of God’s PERSON—His nature, characteristics and attributes—provide an open door for a lifetime of wonder and awe.
FOCUS ON GOD's character first and foremost.
Ask, “How does this show me another aspect of what God is like?”
Pay special attention to anything He expressly says about Himself. Write that down for sure!
Ask, “How does it relate with what I’ve already understood of Him? How does this Biblical definition of God’s character fit with my experience of Him in my own life?”
It helps to mentally and emotionally pull back here. Calmly observe your past life experiences in context of what else was happening around you at the time. Ask, “God, where were you while this was happening?” You’ll be surprised to hear an answer deep inside your thoughts. Trust that it’s Him speaking, not just you making things up. The way you discern this is to remember that you prayed before you started and whatever you pray in Jesus’ name, Father will surely do…so unless it’s in direct opposition to what the Bible says God is like, it is really the Lord talking to you from the inside. You’re having a conversation with God!
This questioning and answering practice between you two can clear up so many misconceptions you’ve held, and you may let go of the hang-ups you’ve hung your spiritual life on. God will heal you of wounds and lies that have kept your heart apart from Him, and you’ll be quite happy to set out on a new course from there. Finding out who God really IS to you will be enlightening to say the least! You’ll see things with better perspective than you may have ever before. Life gets better from there!
Question the beliefs you’ve adopted based on your life experience.
Ask, “Where did those opinions I have of God come from? What experience led me to decide those things about Him?”
Compare your decisions about His character with what you see about Him in the Bible. Replace them as He speaks truth to you. Remember: He is greater than your heart. Sometimes we agree with things that are not right and it’s good to pull those out like weeds and plant new healthy beliefs instead. The heart is where you make all your decisions from, so it’s really important to have intentional beliefs based on the truth operating in that seat of your life.
Honest assessment of your own character is humbling but healthy. It brings about exponential growth…which helps you become a better human.
Allow the Bible to provide a reflection of YOUR character.
Ask, “Which character in this passage do I resemble?”
Pull back and see how your actions and attitudes compare with the human being in the story. If you've been like someone you admire, affirm and strengthen that aspect of yourself. If you admire how someone acts or the way they position themselves before God, assimilate it. Pray for it to become part of the fabric of your life. If you've been doing something ugly or have had the same stinking attitude of a nemesis character, renounce that and change your mind and behavior. Agree that it’s been bad and ask God to forgive you…and then accept it’s washed in Jesus' blood, already over and done. Drop whatever that was like a hot potato and go on differently now, free to resemble an admirable character.
Jesus says you are clean because of the word He has spoken to you; He says you’re a new creation in His name. Old things are always passing away, so behold—in the now you are all new! Moment by moment, decision by decision, you are in the process of being renewed. Nothing is set in stone. Even if you forget and slip back into old patterns of behavior later, as soon as you realize your folly you can say, “Oops! Sorry I forgot!” and let that broken tendency die yet another death. Cells die in your body and are replaced with fresh, live ones all the time. Why shouldn’t it be any different with behaviors and beliefs?
You change from glory to glory and go from strength to strength when you base your life on the eternal truth in God’s Word.
Jesus is all about extreme-makeover transformations, and He is a brilliant carpenter. He will do the extraordinary work; you just have to keep giving Him your life so He can!
What are the benefits of real discipleship? So many!
Trust-based surrender and conversation leads to RELATIONSHIP.
It’s the whole point of your human life on Earth! Jesus said, “This is eternal life: to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” That sounds like a direct statement to me. We were made for intimacy.
Reading the Bible and allowing Jesus to disciple you enables the satisfaction of knowing God… and being deeply known and dearly loved by Him. This is your soul’s greatest need, built-in by your Creator who alone can provide whatever it takes. You’re a vacuum only God can fill. Nothing else will. Nothing else can.
Intimacy cannot be replaced by intensity.
No amount of human striving without God’s help can attain real peace. You can work out every day, eat the best food, meditate like a guru, serve entire nations with the best intentions, achieve a trillion financial and career-driven goals and still not be happy. Only intimacy will fill the void. Yes, with people, but even the deepest horizontal relationships are not enough—we need a deep vertical one with our Father too. Jesus provides an open conversation with Him; all it takes from our side is our full attention and focused intention born of a desire to understand and know God better.
Real, intimate discipleship establishes UNION between you and God.
Meeting with Him makes connection, gives you a shared experience, creates a bond between your two entities. Once you’ve had experiences with God, a pathway now exists that’s able to be traveled like a road into one another’s lives, more and more reasons to have another conversation or shared experience. This is what friends do: they visit each other because it’s fun. Two become one, in a way.
…And UNION with God increases HOPE.
Forever is a long time to live with somebody you don’t even know. If you’ve trusted God to give you eternal life and a place in heaven with Him when you die, isn’t it a great idea to get to know each other first?
Begin real discipleship by coming to Him over the text that He gave so you could see Him in context of how He’s been from the beginning of the story up to now. Then talk to Him like a friend, a dad, a teacher—trust and rely on Him for what He offers to fill your need. Become the kind of person who honors Him—the one who literally gave His life to save yours. He is the absolute best person to trust and rely on, for He is the infinite provider and sustainer, creator and lover of your life. His promises are rock solid. He will never let you down or leave you alone. You can place your hope in Him and know it is well-placed…He will prove Himself trustworthy time after time on Earth until you find yourself standing in His Forever Realm of Ultimate Reality. Oh what a glorious day that will be!
So what is YOUR next step in real discipleship? Has this helped the idea of discipleship become more attractive to you? Do you want to know God like this? Log in and comment your intentions below, then go and put action to it—you won’t be disappointed! Knowing God through the lens of the Bible is a life-changer on every level. He is SO GOOD!