Read Matthew 4:18-19; Romans 15:1- 13
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.
Discipleship is also reciprocal, that is, when one learns, he/she makes the commitment to train someone else. That is what Jesus meant by, "I will make you fishers of men." It is not just catching them and then storing them (fish were processed and sold for the battement and use of the community), it is training, and placing, so they, too, can catch, train, and place! Discipleship is the primary earthly goal of the Church as a whole, and the Christian as an individual. It is our duty, and the one thing Christ directly commands us to do (Matt. 28:19-20). In so doing, we will become like Him in character and share His outlook and concerns (Luke 6:39-40). We are never to make disciples in our image, like whom we are, how we think, feel, and act, but like Christ!
It all comes down to a decision. Will we make our faith real and impacting, relinquishing our pride to allow us to learn and grow, and in turn teach others, or will we plant our rears in the pew, so that our only impact is our butt print in that pew!
Paul in the Romans passage challenges us in several categories:
· Condescension of the weak and the lost is an extreme assault both on the character of our Lord and on His instruction to us!
· A Christian must never, ever be so filled with pride that he is arrogant and callous toward others!
· The mature Believer should be able to give up his selfish desires and inclinations for the good of others, so to be an example of Christ.
· The Bible was written for our benefit and instruction, filled with hope, purpose, and meaning to enable us to live the Christian life.
· Paul prays for love and concord among the Believers for the worship of God, the chief reason to be a church.
· The Scriptures prophesy the coming together of Jew and Gentile in the service and glory of God.
· Paul passionately urges the Christians in Rome (and us, too) that who we are in Christ must be demonstrated in our relating to others.
· We are called to glorify Christ in all that we do! This includes Paul, the Apostle, as well as us as Believers.
· Paul then tells us of his experience and passion as a missionary raising support, that his Call needs to be supported. Paul in modeling, speaking, and writing directs us to the urgency of the gospel and the need of the world to hear it. He desires prayers and respect. We must give the same to one another.
· We must be careful not to put down others whose faith is not strong.
· Be willing and able to disciple others in the faith with guidance, support, and in prayer.
· Live our life as an encourager to others.
The call for us is in the realm of basic Discipleship, the more experienced and mature Christian is called to walk along side new and less mature Christians to help them grow so they can glorify Christ.
· For Discipleship to happen, Christians are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from their thinking and actions! The mature Christian has the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others with time, love, and patience.
· The Jewish Christians were trying to force unneeded commands and procedures on the new Gentile converts. They were exercising their own version of lordship, to the exclusion of Christ. Thus, we cannot flaunt ourselves because of our maturity or lack of it. We are to be dedicated to unity rather than to strife and envy.
· Envy is one of the most destructive forces on earth, and will bring down leaders and ministries faster than imagination can allow! Christ's focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours?
· In verse three, which is one of the most quoted passages in the New Testament, Paul is quoting Psalm 69:9. Since God was able to deny Himself, it is ludicrous to think that our pride is bigger than Him, so we do not need to be humble! Yet, many Christians act as though this were true! We forget that our Lord suffered for the benefit of others, to the exclusion of Himself. This must be our model and pattern in service to others, and the reason for the importance of being humble (1 Pet. 5).
· The Scriptures were written for us, for our benefit, for our learning, for our growth (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12), all by divine inspiration! Do we acknowledge God's Word the way we do money? Do we trust others to handle our money, but do not trust them to disciple our soul? All this must transpire by our unity (vs. 1:21-23; 3:23; 5:2, 11; 8:17-30; 10:8-10).
· From our studying, to our mentoring, to our governing, to our hospitality, to our public encounters, all must be done by one mind and mouth. We must work as a body, maintaining our individual personalities, but having unified vision and purpose to glorify God. If this is not so, the result is chaos and strife, Satan's favorite playground! We cannot glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in the presence of anger and bitterness. We cannot be known for our negatives, for they will accomplish nothing. Our focus must be on the positive.
· We as Christians have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model God's redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to the Christian (Gen. 12).
Hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, no trust in the One who loves.
1. Have you, or have you known Christians who flaunt themselves or are condescending to new Christians? How do you feel about this? What would Jesus think?
2. How could you present an argument to your leadership that discipleship is paramount for the church?
3. What would be their motivations for doing so and how would Christ receive that?
4. Why is envy one of the most destructive forces on earth? How can it bring down leaders as well as ministries?
5. Christ's focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours?
6. Since God was able to deny Himself, can your pride be bigger than Him? If so, what do you need to do to be humble?
7. Do you acknowledge God's Word the way you do money? Do you trust others to handle your money, but do not trust them to disciple your soul?
8. Why can't you glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in anger and bitterness?
9. Are you and your church known for your negatives or positives? If so, what will you accomplish, or what will be your focus?
10. How can you and your church realize a depth of gratitude for what Christ has done so you can see the lost as opportunities and recognize the call to reach them?
11. If God accepted you, why should you in turn accept others?
12. A wild animal will tear at another animal's weakness and frailties. Do you or your church do the same to others and still praise the Lord?
13. Christ bears our stupidities. What are those for you and your church? What do you think it means for Christ to bear our stupidities?
14. How do you feel knowing that Christ has love, patience, and grace with us even though we are totally undeserving?
15. What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model peace and unity?
16. How can your church function collectively, with all of its individual personalities, in unified vision and purpose to glorify God?
17. What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model Discipleship? What should you be doing with Discipleship? How will you do it? What is the plan? Start date? Who will do this? How will you communicate this to the rest of the church? Do not forget prayer!
Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried on to the people around us!
© 1998, 2002, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/