Summary: God is clear that He wants us to grow up to be more than little children in Christ.
Are you a Disciple?
Purpose Driven Life- Chapter 23
January 24, 2004
What do you think God wants of you, as far as your growth is concerned? What is God’s desire for you in spiritual maturity? How would you describe what He wants for you in that regard? (get responses).
Eph.4.15- can someone read this, please? What does this say? It says that God wants you, and me, to grow up like Christ in everything. We’re told that we have a standard to mimic- an example to rise to- an elder brother’s successful life as our model for behaviour.
Eph.4.14- what does this say? It says that we’re not meant to remain as children. We’re not meant to stay simply as we are, now, or at any one stage of our spiritual development. We’re meant to mature. We’re meant to grow up.
You might think this is inevitable. We look at babies and the fact that they just grow up. Unless there is some genetic difficulty, this is true. A baby will grow up. However, we know that some babies can grow older but never grow up, too. We know that there are adults who are simply big children- who have never really grown up- who are still incredibly immature and childish- not childlike, which is a good and commendable virtue, according to God. Such can be the case for Christians, too. Millions of Christians grow older but never grow up, but get stuck in continual spiritual infancy, all because they never intended to grow- they never made a commitment to grow and have never set out with growth in mind.
I want you to hear a statement that is what this message is all about. “While all disciples are Christians, not all Christians are disciples.” I’ll repeat that statement, which underscores this reality that I want to focus on today. The fact is that spiritual growth is not automatic- it takes intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make effort to grow, and persist to grow. The process of becoming like Christ-, which is what being a disciple, is all about- always begins with a decision.
Matt. 9.9- Jesus called Matthew to be his disciple and Matthew had to make the decision, which he did, to get up and to follow Jesus with that calling in mind. He was not to be just a follower, but was called to be a disciple, which is a student and a mimic of Jesus. I was reading, yesterday, and came across the idea of a disciple described as an apprentice; I find that definition helpful- I know that an apprentice is someone who learns from someone, doing as taught, and being guided in the process. The highest honor we can give to a teacher is to incorporate his or her life into ours- it is to copy their life into ours. This is the benefit of being exposed to teachers- some will be not so great, but all have something we can learn from and incorporate into our lives. Jesus, as the ultimate teacher, certainly did.
Do I believe that Matthew understood all that being a disciple would mean when he responded to that call of Jesus? No. None of the disciples understood all that their decision to follow Jesus would mean. They didn’t know the struggles and the martyrs’ deaths they would all know- except for John, as far as we know. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s what you and I must do first, though. We must decide to become a disciple.
In life, today, far too often, we fall into situations. We fall into love and relationships. We fall into jobs, not so much by design and intentional training as by chance. We fall into a particular vehicle to drive. It goes on this way in many areas of our lives. However, as Christians, commitments we make are important. Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or they can hurt you and even destroy you, but either way, they will define your life. We become what we are committed to.
Whom we marry involves a decision and a commitment. We choose to love- either by conscious decision or by falling into something and refusing to make a choice. However, we’re meant to make a choice, based on factors that include issues of health, family backgrounds, education, interests, similarities, and the like. It’s more than simply a matter of happenstance. Our careers and jobs are, at their best, a matter of choice, where we’ve gone out and become trained in a field that matches our talents and gifts that God has given us, and then are able to bring all that to the table in working for an employer. We’re to decide and to be committed to something. We’re not meant to drift through life, yet many of us are afraid to make a commitment to something and to not drift through life. We’re not meant to make partial commitments to conflicting interests. God wants people who make commitments and who show, by the way they live their lives, that they are committed. He wants you and me to be committed to Jesus Christ and, through Him, to God, and to live our lives as if we are so committed. There’s every reason to do this, too, because this puts us into something that is permanent and eternal.