Authentic Discipleship 1

Authentic Discipleship1 (Vol. 1 – 7)

 

True Christian discipleship, C. S. Lewis would have us understand, is first a matter of the heart—the inner life: the recognition, acceptance, and surrender to God’s absolute authority over all the affairs of one’s life in a way that leaves no place to which one may call one’s own. But the surrendered heart, Lewis taught, must also express itself in active obedience to the claims placed upon the believer by the New Covenant. The heart and will of a disciple are, in fact, inextricably bound together. Lewis’s most poignant commentary on these matters, particularly the purpose of discipleship and the demands it presupposes, are found near the end of Book 4 of Mere Christianity.

Here Lewis made unavoidably clear that the ultimate purpose or aim of discipleship is to become perfectly Christlike. The Bible uses such phrases as “putting on Christ,” “becoming a partaker of the divine nature,” and “becoming a son or daughter of God,” to flesh out this idea. It is also embodied, Lewis pointed out, in the call to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” a command he took quite literally. In fact he stated that it “is the whole of Christianity” and that “God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful… whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.” God is not about the business of making nice people but rather new men and women perfected in the likeness of Christ. Consequently, Lewis went on to say, that the only help we can expect from the Lord is help in becoming perfect. We may want something less, but the Lord is committed to nothing less. Lewis was convinced that this was the very heart of the gospel and, therefore, was also the heart of the call to discipleship. It was the primary reason for which the Son of God came and suffered and died and rose from the grave. This he made unavoidably clear in the chapter “Counting the Cost.”
That is why He warned people to “count the cost” before becoming Christians. “Make no mistake,” He says, “if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have the free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you—whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.”

That this was the ultimate purpose God had in mind for the sending of his Son, Lewis believed, and it accordingly obligated every believer to do what he or she could to assist others in the way of Christlikeness.

1 Extracted from article: C.S. Lewis on Authentic Discipleship by Christopher W. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute.

 


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Discipleship 6

Disciples Intentionally Build Relationships (Vol. 1 – 6)

 

Discipleship does not just happen. We need to be intentional about cultivating deep, honest relationships. While we can have discipleship relationships anywhere, the most natural place for them to develop is in the community of the local church. In the church Christians are commanded to meet together regularly, spur each other on in Christ-likeness, and protect each other against sin (Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24-25).

The discipleship relationships that spring out of this type of committed community should be both structured and spontaneous. When we study the life of Jesus, we see that He formally taught His disciples (Mt. 5-7; Mk. 10:1) while also allowing them to observe His obedience to God as they lived life together (Jn 4:27; Lk. 22:39-56).

In the same way, some of our discipleship relationships should be structured. Maybe two friends decide to read a chapter from the Gospel of John and then discuss it over coffee or a workout at the gym. Maybe two businessmen read a chapter each week from a Christian book and then talk about it on a Saturday walk through the neighborhood with their kids. Maybe two couples do a date night together once a month and talk about what the Bible says about marriage. Maybe a godly older lady has a younger single woman over to her home on Tuesday afternoon to pray and study a Christian biography. Maybe a mom spends time at the park with other moms each week. Regardless of the format, some of our discipleship should involve scheduled times of reading, praying, confessing, encouraging, and challenging each other to become more like Christ.

Discipleship can also be spontaneous. Maybe friends go to a movie together and then grab ice cream afterwards to compare the movie’s message to what the Bible says. Maybe a father and a son sit on the porch and reflect on God’s glory being displayed in a sunset. Maybe you invite visitors from church over for lunch and ask everyone how they came to know Jesus.

We always need to be intentional, but we don’t always need to be structured. In fact, Deuteronomy 6 shows us that discipleship happens “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (v. 7). Every moment presents an opportunity to discuss who God is and what He’s doing. Since we are always following Jesus, we always have the opportunity to help others follow Him as well.

 


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Discipleship 5

Disciples help others follow Jesus (Vol. 1 – 5)

 

As we follow our Lord, we quickly learn that part of imitation is replication. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is magnificent, but it is incomplete if it ends with us. Part of being his follower is to intentionally help others learn from Him and become more like Him. If you are not helping other people follow Jesus, then you have a misunderstanding of what it means to follow Jesus. To be his follower is to help others follow Him.

Being a disciple that makes disciples happens in two particular ways. First, we are called to evangelize. Evangelism is telling people who do not follow Jesus what it means to follow Him. We do this by proclaiming and portraying the gospel in our neighborhood and among the nations (Mt. 28:19-20). We must never forget that God has placed us in the families, workplaces, and circles of friends that we are in so that we can proclaim the gospel of grace to those who are destined to hell apart from Christ. We must help people learn how to begin to follow Jesus.

The second aspect of making disciples is helping other believers grow in Christ-likeness. Jesus has designed his church to be a body (1 Cor. 12), a kingdom of citizens and a family who actively build each other up into the fullness of Christ (Eph. 2:19; 4:13, 29). We are called to instruct each other about Christ (Rom. 15:14) and to imitate others who are following Christ (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9). As disciples, we are to intentionally pour into other disciples so they can pour into still others (2 Tim. 2:1-2).

Be equipped, to help others follow, at our Discipleship Equipping Classes on Sunday afternoons.


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