Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are in a living, breathing relationship. Being His disciple is a choice and a life-long process (work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, Phil 2:12, HCSB).
Our thinking and conversation often give clues to the stage of our discipleship. I am still thinking through these stages, so ask questions and make suggestions here. Consider the following:
- IGNORING. There was a time when we were not paying Jesus any attention. The relationship (from our perspective) had not yet begun. We were dead in our trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1).
- EXPLORING. At some point, we became aware of and interested in learning more about Jesus. For me exploring began when Fred Huff asked me if I knew Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
- STARTING. We realized our need for a Savior and Lord. We asked Jesus to forgive us, placed our faith and trust in Him, and asked Him to guide and direct our lives. We began a relationship with Him.
- DEEPENING. We walked together with Him down the pathway of life. We spent more time together. Our lives, thinking, and decisions are impacted by Him.
- INVESTING. As a result of the relationship, Jesus, His agenda, and loving others became more important. This led to an investment of time, resources, and life in serving, discipling, and multiplying. (Appreciation to Hyde Park for ideas.)
Conversation (and thinking) changes can signify transition from one stage to the next. In the Ignoring stage, conversation would be without focus on Jesus or denying relevance. In Exploring, conversation becomes personal: “What does Jesus want?” In the Starting stage, conversation is filled with excitement about what Jesus did for me: “He is my Savior and Lord. I still cannot believe He died for me.” In the Deepening stage, conversation turns to what I need to know and do to be the disciple Jesus wants me to be: “What do I need to study next? What can I do to be a better disciple?” In the Investing stage, conversation turns to others: “How can I make a difference in the lives of others?”
Where are you in these stages? They are not necessarily as simple and totally sequential as I have painted them, but it is a good starting outline for thinking. What can you do to move farther along? What can you do to encourage others to do so?
We will think these thoughts farther in Part 2. In the meantime, be a disciple. Grow as a disciple. Make disciples!