It’s been a while due to COVID 19 and the need to learn how to live stream etc… But I thought I’d post another part of the series on discipleship.
Discipleship isn’t a programme it’s an organic relationship. It invites others to watch us and observe and question and learn. It also invites them to challenge us about sin and other issues in our lives. But just because it is organic it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to think about it. We need to be intentional, thinking carefully about how we build the relationships which will form the framework for discipleship. It can’t be done in carefully choreographed glimpses of life which we allow when the drawbridge is down. It needs quantity of time spent together so that quality time happens naturally, it’s not something you can schedule.
But there are deliberate acts which will help stimulate discipleship, that will deepen and grow a relationship in the gospel. Let me suggest two I found especially helpful.
Ask good questions. Don’t settle for banalities. Don’t settle for the ordinary and mundane. How are you? How is the family? What about the game last night? There’s nothing wrong with those questions, learning what people love and showing you care about them, their relationships and what they love is a good thing. In fact, it’s vital to spend time doing this. We mustn’t despise it as being less than. To do so is wrong.
But it’s never enough on its own. Discipleship is about faithfulness to Christ in all of life. Which means we want to help one another reflect on those things we love in light of the gospel. We want to question one another and help one another reflect on the goodness of God, the creeping possibility of idolatry, and the opportunities within each and every area of life to glorify God. That means those conversations will at points lead us to question one another. To probe motives and responses and actions. To ask why? How did that make you feel? What do you think led you to react like that? Or simply open up opportunities for reflection by pointing out the goodness of God, or the impact of sin.
I’m not suggesting that every conversation needs that. But if none of our conversations do then we are discipling someone in the division of sacred and secular. If the only probing spiritual questions we ask are: how is your quiet time? How are you finding praying? Where are you struggling with temptation? Question we do need to ask. But if they are the only questions we ask of a spiritual nature then we are discipling people in dividing sacred and secular not in living for Christ’s glory in all of life.
Jesus as he discipled so often drew reflection from the everyday. He poses questions that call for deeper thought, that provoke declarations, but he also uses everyday observations on life as opportunities to teach and question. It is something I wonder if we are particularly bad at. We are too compartmentalised, we need to reflect more broadly on all of life to the glory of God, so that we can disciple others in just that.
Use stimulus material. I love books, I read voraciously. But I also look to give books away (not my copy but another) to people in church and ask them how they found it. Sometimes specifically setting aside a time to chat through issues raised or questions at the end of a chapter. We are spoilt to live when we do with the wealth of material we have, with the opportunities they offer. A shared book naturally brings up points for discussion, shared passage, shared thoughts, even strong disagreements provide opportunities for reflection, refinement and spiritual growth.
Shared books were vital in my discipleship. I will be forever grateful for a book group I was part of in my first year at Uni. For other discussions with various people who passed me books to read, some of which I loved and have in turn passed on, some of which I hated but which provoked good conversations, loads more which I don’t particularly remember but where the conversations they stimulated have still deepened relationships and challenged my thinking and living.
The question is how deliberate are we? How intentional?