Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Christian and Theologically Protestant? Or, sincerely inquiring about the Protestant faith? Welcome to Christforums the Christian Protestant community. You'll first need to register in order to join our community. Create or respond to threads on your favorite topics and subjects. Registration takes less than a minute, it's simple, fast, and free! Enjoy the fellowship! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Fenced Community

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible-believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non-Nicene, non-Biblical heresy.
Register now

Christian Fellowship

John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
Sign in to follow this  
William

Disciple-Making is Ordinary Christianity

Recommended Posts

Staff

by Erik Raymond

 

What is your job as a Christian? If God gave you a job description for the Christian life, what would he put on it?

 

At the core of the Christian’s job is the task of discipleship. We read this clearly in our Lord’s pre-ascension words:

 

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18–20)

 

What does it mean to make disciples? A disciple is a learner and a follower of Jesus. When we make disciples we are working to see people who do not follow Jesus come to follow him (conversion) and then teaching them to faithfully follow Jesus in every area of their lives (maturity).

 

Many Christians hear this and file it away in a cabinet of idealism. Sure, I’d like to disciple people but I really can’t. They feel like discipleship is above their pay grade. Is this true? Is discipleship something that only pastors, elders and the “mature” do? Or is it for everyone?

 

Here is my main point: disciple-making is ordinary Christianity. It is fundamental to it. Like learning to count and say your alphabet in the natural realm, there is scarcely any part of the Christian life where discipleship does not touch. In so far as Christianity is a community faith, it is a disciple-making faith.

 

There may be a dozen different paradigms flying around when you hear discipleship. Some people insist on reading a book, meeting for coffee, eating a meal, working out, etc. All of these may aid the work of discipleship but they are not a prerequisite for or the necessary substance of it. Jesus never gave us a program for discipleship but he gave us his example and a broad, far-reaching command to do it. As a result, we have great freedom and a great burden for discipleship.

 

What does it look like? When Jesus commands us to make disciples he intends for us to live our lives in obedience to him in the presence of other people (believers and unbelievers). This intentional living seeks to show others the worth and the power of Christ. In short, we let people in to see how we live out the Christian faith.

 

Let me give you some examples:

 

Discipleship happens when a guy wants to be married but doesn’t have a game-plan for how to go about it. He asks another brother for guidance and help. This brother takes him out for lunch and talks through some biblical and practical principles. He then commits to pray for him, to be available for questions, and to meet occasionally to talk about his progress.

 

Discipleship happens when a mom with two toddlers drops something off that she borrowed from another sister at church. During the exchange they get to talking and the young mom expresses her feelings of fatigue and failure to measure up to her perceived standards of motherhood. The other woman listens to her, reminds her of Scripture, prays with her, and then continues to come alongside of her for encouragement in the gospel.

 

Discipleship happens when a dad points out a scantily dressed lady and tells his teenage sons that what they see is not beauty. He explains to them what beauty is as it relates to God’s character and will. He continues to tell, show, and emphasize the true beauty that God delights in (1 Pt. 3:3–4).

 

Discipleship happens when a brother notices another brother is running hard after his job and neglecting his family and ministry. He comes alongside of his brother to remind him of the true and lasting treasure, and the proper perspective on work.

 

Discipleship happens when a mom is at the park with her children. At one point the kids become unruly and she patiently, graciously but faithfully, disciplines her children. There are many watching eyes around her. Both the believing and unbelieving women are intrigued. Conversations begin and soon the fruit of the Spirit points to the matchless worth of Christ.

 

Discipleship happens when a home-school mom breaks away with free time only to go to the same coffee house hoping to make new friends and open doors for sharing the gospel.

 

Discipleship happens when a single woman senses another single woman’s discontentment in being single. She makes it a point to come alongside of her for encouragement in the goodness of the gospel.

 

These are just everyday, ordinary occurrences. In fact, I picked them from the ordinary lives of people in our church family. It is this ordinary work that pushes the church ahead toward maturity while protecting her from spiritual shipwreck.

 

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Heb. 3:13–14)

 

Discipleship is the ordinary practice of believers. You could say that Christianity is more than discipleship, but it is not less. We are our brother’s keeper. It’s in the job description.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Topics

    • Famous Spy, Ordinary Life

      Glancing at the titles of biographies of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer would lead you to believe he lived a life of great heroism. Eric Metaxas’s playful subtitle claims Bonhoeffer was a “pastor, martyr, prophet, spy.” Another subtitle says he was a “man of resistance,” while yet another calls him both a spy and “an unlikely hero.” The epic titles certainly grab the eyes of potential readers. And for kids who think Christianity is boring, what could be better than a spy who stood up to Hitler? See, kids, Christianity is exciting. This pastor was a spy who planned to help assassinate history’s most notorious madman. This is all well and good until you take a deeper dive into the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived—as far as we can tell—a relatively unexciting life. He spent a lot of time reading, writing, thinking, and teaching, and, while producing bold work, lived a quite normal and privileged life for a pastor, even in prison. “Bonhoeffer himself would never imagine his actions as heroic in the least,” wrote Charles Marsh in his spectacular biography, Strange Glory (read TGC’s review). Bonhoeffer’s life didn’t include a lot of heroism until its end. This is why I approached John Hendrix’s The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler with some reservation. This graphic novel, with the words “KILL HITLER” on the cover next to a small drawing of a middle-aged Bonhoeffer on the run—papers flying from his briefcase—ended up completely reversing my suspicions. This book gave me a deeper respect for Bonhoeffer as a singular life, the graphic novel as a form, and Hendrix as a writer and illustrator. Bonhoeffer in Context Hendrix desires to blend accurate history with the philosophical, theological, and political ideas of Bonhoeffer. The Faithful Spy starts in little Dietrich’s bedroom as he dreams and talks about eternity with his twin sister, Sabine. From there, Hendrix recounts not just the story of Bonhoeffer, but of Germany and Hitler too. He does this by utilizing a simple, tricolor design throughout the book (Hitler is red; Bonhoeffer is teal). The colors change as he either explores the Führer or the pastor. Pages of red follow pages of teal, and, when needed, the two blend together. As I read, I realized how few Bonhoeffer biographies include a history of Hitler’s rise to power. Hendrix’s bibliography and endnotes are both impressive and insightful. While there are some glaring omissions (no Reggie Williams or Michael Pasquarello!), Hendrix certainly did enough reading and research to give us an accurate representation of both Hitler and Bonhoeffer. Relationships in Action The book takes the usual twists and turns on the pastor’s life, emphasizing the right moments at nearly all the right times. Perhaps Hendrix’s best work is the chapter he dedicates to Bonhoeffer’s season in Harlem, New York. This includes drawings of the pastor’s relationships with both Frank Fischer (who introduced Bonhoeffer to the black church) and the Frenchman Jean Lasserre. Hendrix traces Bonhoeffer’s life the way it must be traced: through a series of intellectual ascents he makes within his key relationships. This is what makes Hendrix’s work both beautiful and difficult. Bonhoeffer wasn’t so much shaped by events as he was relationships. These included long discussions and extended correspondence with a diverse group of thinkers he was fortunate to meet. It was the ideas within these relationships that moved Bonhoeffer, and Hendrix honors this well. With plenty of opportunities to overdramatize this rare life, Hendrix doesn’t do it. And he honors the people who helped Bonhoeffer think rightly about the situation in Germany, leading him to take his stand and receive his death. And this is why some readers, who are expecting more panel-to-panel events typical of graphic novels, might be disappointed. The book has a lot of text, particularly as the story progresses, and I was often disappointed when a page-turn meant another long section of prose (and I love reading!). I so enjoyed Hendrix’s panel work that I always wanted more, and yet, I wonder how he could’ve honored Bonhoeffer’s somewhat simple life and still included more scenes of action (Hendrix alludes to this in a superb afterword). Beautiful, Not Boring Here it must be said clearly: this is a beautiful book. Hendrix is a talented artist. A simple skim through the pages will leave you hovering over certain drawings for a long time. But Hendrix’s prose shouldn’t go unnoticed. A talented writer with a knack for both compelling motifs (e.g., his interplay of Hitler as a wolf) and sound word choice, Hendrix moves the story along while making his historical digressions clear and parenthetical. With its accuracy, readability, and beauty, it’s the best introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer I’ve seen. Bonhoeffer led a Christlike life. “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2). And yet, like Christ himself, his seemingly ordinary life and habits are illuminated by his suffering. For Bonhoeffer, his suffering was the culmination of much thinking, writing, preaching, befriending, developing, teaching, talking, and philosophizing. There came a point where courage was required, and because of prior providential preparation, he was able to stand and die. There’s nothing boring about it. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • How Does Christianity Relate to Hinduism?

      by Ravi Zacharias   I often think back with nostalgia to growing up in India and the late-night conversations we would have about a Hindu play or some event that featured Hindu thought. Now, through the lens of Jesus Christ, I have learned to see how deep seated culture and religion can be and how only the power of the Holy Spirit can reveal the error of an ingrained way of thinking. Consequently, whenever we speak with someone from another faith, it is essential to remember that we must not attempt to tear down another's belief system but rather to reveal the hungers of the human heart and the unique way in which Christ addresses them.   For the Hindu, karma--the moral law of cause-and-effect--is a life-defining concept. Life carries its moral bills, and they are paid in the cyclical pattern of rebirth until all dues are paid in full. Hinduism here conveys an inherited sense of wrong, which is lived out in the next life, in vegetable, animal, or human form. This doctrine is nonnegotiable in Hindu philosophy. Repercussions of fatalism (that is, whatever happens will happen) and the indifference to the plight of others are inescapable but are dismissed by philosophical platitudes that do not weigh out the consequences of such reasoning. Thus it is key to bear in mind that although karma is seen as a way of paying back, this payback is never complete; hence life is lived out paying back a debt that one cannot know in total but that must be paid in total. That is why the cross of Christ is so definitive and so complete. It offers forgiveness without minimizing the debt. When we truly understand that forgiveness, we develop a loving heart or gratitude. There is a full restoration--in this life and for eternity.   The Christian should also understand the attraction of pantheism, the Hindu view of seeing the divine in everything. It superficially appears more compatible with scientific theorizing because it presents no definitive theory of origins. Life is cyclical, without a first cause. Pantheism also gives one a moral reasoning, through karmic fatalism, that one is trapped in the cycle until one escapes, without the need to invoke God. But in the final analysis, it is without answers when one needs to talk about the deepest struggles of the soul. Hindu scholars even admit this in their creation of a path of bhakti (love, devotion) to satisfy the inescapable human hunger for worship.   It is here that a keen understanding is needed. Krishna's coming to earth as an avatar--that is, one of the incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu--in a way brings "God to man." But a huge chasm still remains. How does one bring man to God? For this, there is only one way-- the way of the cross. A profound and studied presentation of the cross, and what it means, is still the most distinctive aspect of the Christian faith. Even Gandhi said it was the most unexplainable thing to him and was unparalleled. For the Christian, the cross of Jesus Christ is the message "first to the Jew, and also to the Greek" (Rm2:9)--to the moralist and the pantheist, to the religious and the irreligious. We can communicate this message with a Hindu acquaintance or friend only through a loving relationship. The love of Christ, a patient listening and friendship, and the message of forgiveness provide the path to evangelism.

      in Apologetics and Theology

    • Iranians ‘Disillusioned with Islam’ Are Fleeing Country, Converting to Christianity

      Iranian refugees in Turkey are converting from Islam to Christianity in such numbers that churches can't keep up with the demand, experts in the region say. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Is cousin marriage allowed in Christianity?

      Is cousin marriage allowed in Christianity? My friend is interested in his cousin ad wants to marry her. They both love each other but they want to be sure if it is allowed in the religion to marry your cousin. If you know about this then please let me know.

      in Marriage

    • Number of Witches in the U.S. Soars as Millennials Reject Christianity, Claims Newsweek

      Media site NewsBusters.org says that a Newsweek article claiming the number of witches in the U.S. is climbing while millennials reject Christianity isn’t accurate. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.