Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTH CHURCH: Discipleship Requires Discipline

HEALTH CHURCH: Discipleship Requires Discipline

Warren Wiersbe described discipleship as “a daily discipline — we follow Jesus a step at a time, a day at a time.” Paul’s command in I Tim. 4:7 is to train ourselves as disciplined disciples who follow Christ, pursue holiness and train for godliness. In verse 10 of the same chapter, he tells us to labor and strive for these goals. The disciple must be disciplined for discipleship to occur. Disciples (followers of Jesus) are expected to train, which requires maximum effort and an all-in mentality. Discipleship without a 100% commitment will never accomplish all that God intended.

Physical training expects sweat equity proving total dedication to your task. Spiritual training has the same expectation. You must be willing to set something else down in order to pick up the spiritual disciplines needed to reach the goal of being like Christ. The word “labor” in verse 10 means to work to the point of weariness and exhaustion. He also tells us to strive, which has the idea of agonizing and to engage in a struggle. This caused Paul to state, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Missionary to India Henry Martin said, “Now let me burn out for God.” John Knox expressed his commitment by stating, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” 

In Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders states, “If he (the leader) is unwilling to pay the price of fatigue for his leadership, it will always be mediocre… True leadership always exacts a heavy toll on the whole man, and the more effective the leadership is, the higher the price to be paid.” There is a price to be paid and Jim Elliott a missionary to Ecuador said it quite well: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose!” He became a martyr for the gospel at the age of 28. These leaders had “fixed” their hope on the living God and were willing to make whatever sacrifice was necessary, even their own lives.

Discipleship is fueled not by curriculum or a program but rather by a person. Proverbs 9:10 (NIV) states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Discipleship is more about looking to Him as the answer than it is looking for the answers. It is making sure the transcendence of God is never replaced by the transcendence of self. Discipleship must be focused on who God is, and should never be focused on self-advancement or only self-improvement. Biblical discipleship is not transforming our view of God but rather a view of God that transforms us — all of us.

Disciples are called to discipline themselves in the process of discipleship by carrying the cross of self-denial, not the crown of self-improvement. Genuine followers of Christ will desire more of God and less of them. Have you elevated your purpose — what you do — over Who Jesus is? Are you celebrating your service to Him more than you are celebrating your Savior? Have you become so distracted by all the bells and whistles of programs, plans and systems that you are overlooking the person of Christ? Have you gotten so satisfied with all the activities of being involved in church that you are missing out on adoring its Founder and Head?

Colossians 2:9 tells us we are complete in Christ. He is not only Who we are following, He is our very identity. Colossians 1-2 reminds us not only of Christ’s preeminence but also of our completeness in Him. If you are not careful, you will find your identity in things ranging from your politics to your family, from sports to your hobby and even from your family to your service in your church. Being His disciple is learning that He must have supremacy and preeminence in every area of your life. That means you refuse to settle for knowing about Him and you passionately pursue knowing Him personally and intimately.

You cannot afford to lose your awe of Who Christ is. He is the image of the invisible God and the Creator of all things. He is the Alpha and Omega and the sustainer of all things. He is over all things, and He is God almighty. A disciple disciplines themselves to remain focused and fixated on the beauty of Christ. Have you lost your awe of Who He is? Being His disciple is so much more than knowing more information about Him because He gives us so much more — He gives us Himself. Being focused and fixated on His beauty demands your total focus by becoming totally absorbed, transfixed and mesmerized with the Holy One.

Philippians 3:8 (HCSB) says, “…I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ…” He is more beautiful than you can possibly imagine. He is more amazing, wonderful and magnificent than you could ever comprehend. Are you disciplining yourself in your discipleship journey to learn and discover more and more about the depths of His beauty? When you see His beauty, nothing else compares to Him. Then you gladly turn loose of anything He has forbidden. You are not giving anything up, you are receiving Him and gaining so much more because of this surpassing value of knowing Him.

Discipleship is deeper than you have ever imagined because God is inexhaustible. You could never exhaust the bottomless beauty of God. Disciplined discipleship is not looking for God to be God to you but is instead understanding that God is good for you. This kind of disciple focuses on the attributes of God and does not only count his blessings. He is God and worthy of our praise, which is based more on Who we know He is than on what we see going on around us. Disciple, never forget, “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”