If you are familiar with the New Testament in your Bible, you have heard of Jesus’ disciples. The four gospel books center around Jesus and the twelve men who dropped everything to follow Him. They started their walk with Jesus as uneducated, ordinary men, and eleven of them ended their lives completely transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God used them to help spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. He used them to write down His words that have miraculously stayed preserved through millennia. Jesus also used His last spoken words to His disciples before ascending to Heaven with a command for them to go out and make more disciples, “teaching them to observe all that He had commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20). Discipleship is not only important, but it is necessary.
Much like the disciples of Jesus, our spiritual lives should have similarities in how they begin and end. Before we meet Jesus, we are spiritually blind and dead. However, when He saves us, we are brought to new life! We leave our baggage behind, He opens our eyes to the things of God, and seals us with His Helper (the Holy Spirit). From there, we begin our journey walking with Jesus. Friends, it is a journey. Even though God wipes our sin-filled slate perfectly clean upon salvation, that does not mean we will be 100% perfected the instant we are spiritually reborn. It is a process of purification – growing and becoming more like Christ, and it is called sanctification. We are called to constantly and consistently renew our minds through Scripture; after all, if Jesus is our master and teacher, and we are His disciples, there is no better way to learn than to read and follow His Word! When we let His teachings flow through us and change the way we think, act, and react, we will become more like Christ, and we please our Heavenly Father. As followers of Jesus, He needs to be the number one authority over our lives. He is our teacher, we are His disciples. If this is not true in your life, you need to stop right now and fix that. If you have truly given your life to the Lord, He has to be #1 in your life. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I am not saying it is easy – the Bible tells us that we have to die to our flesh daily. Like the 12 men who originally followed Jesus, we also have to “drop our nets,” leave the world behind, and follow Him. It is not an easy road but it leads to unimaginable joy and blessing. I encourage you to stop right now and ask God to realign your heart to His ways and His plans. You will not regret it!
Once we have the God-first priority aligned and well-practiced, it is important to realize that it should not end there. The awesome thing about the global Church is that we have so many spiritual brothers and sisters who share the same heart and desires as us. God has given every one of His children unique and specific gifting and talents to use to help build up the body of Christ (the Church) and to reach the world. If you are a new believer, it is so important that you find a trusted and wise man or woman who can help disciple you in the ways of Christ and the teaching of His Word. The Bible alone is surely sufficient for our growth, but God also provides people to help. The apostle Paul is a great example of this. He wrote much of the New Testament, which is comprised of letters written to different churches throughout the Middle East and Asia, as well as letters to specific people. Throughout all of them, Paul encourages, teaches, builds up, and lovingly corrects when things are not looking so good. God specifically equipped Paul to disciple and teach countless men and women in His ways. In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul closes with this statement, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Paul spent time with these people. Mirroring Jesus, he taught them in word and action. He was not asking them to practice the things and actions of himself, but of Jesus. He ends with quite a promise – if you take what you learn about Jesus by hearing and receiving, and then put it into practice, God’s peace will be with you. Yes, Lord! I want Your peace! I encourage you, no matter how “seasoned” of a believer you are, to find someone who can help you in your growth process. There is no limit to spiritual growth and intimacy with the Lord! It is a wonderful, life-long journey! If you need help finding a wise and trusted teacher and mentor, please reach out to us. We would love to help connect you!By now you might be thinking that the process is coming to its end, but guess what, there is one more step! Looking again to Matthew chapter 28, Jesus tells His disciples that it is now their job to go out and make more disciples. That command was not just for them, but for us as well. Once you have become a disciple of Jesus, it is so important that you learn and practice God’s ways so that you can be sanctified, purified, and look more like your Savior. That will bring great joy to your life. Yet, do not just leave it at that. Take what you have learned and go find someone else to help! Guide them through the Bible and show them how it has transformed your life! If every believer in the world took to this process (growing, learning, and then passing that to someone else) it would be an endless and extremely powerful chain. This command is not just for the pastors and leaders of your church. It is for every believer!