Throughout 2014, I have been encouraging both of the churches I pastor to focus on discipleship. And I’ve been using the term “transformational discipleship.” Let’s take a look at what those two words mean.
The word “transformational” means to bring change. If we are really going to be disciples, then we must let the Holy Spirit change us.
If you claim to be a believer or a follower of Jesus Christ and you haven’t been changed then there is something wrong somewhere. If you are not changed from who you were into a new creation then you need to reexamine your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is in the business of change. That’s who He is. That’s what He does.
I’ve heard the great Christian speaker and writer Max Lucado say, “Yes, Jesus loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way.”
God sent His one only son, Jesus, into the world to die for us so that we might be changed from sinners into sinners saved by His grace.
The word “discipleship” literally means a learner, or someone who studies the actions, thoughts and behaviors of another.
In order to be true disciples of Jesus Christ we are going to need to study Him, who He is, and what He has done so that we can imitate Him. That is what every Christian ought to be doing.
In our relationship with Jesus, we should be growing more and more like Jesus.
Sometimes I wonder if, in our modern use of the English language, the word “Christian” might have lost some of its significance. That’s why I’ve been trying to use the word disciple instead of Christian.
It almost seems as if everyone claims to be a Christian, while very few actually behave like a Christian should. It’s as if all it takes to be a Christian is to believe that there is a God and that He had a son named Jesus who lived a really long time ago.
Well, if that’s all there is to it, then Satan is a Christian, even he knows that God is real (James 2:19).
Believing in the reality of God is good. Acknowledging Christ is good. That’s the first step in our relationship with Jesus.
That is how we all start out. But we need to grow beyond that first step. We need to mature spiritually. That’s what it really means to be a disciple.
The hard part is that the process of maturing spiritually is lifelong process. We never really get to the place where we can stop growing spiritually.
The big fancy theological word for this process is “sanctification.” But it just means that we are growing to be a little bit more like Jesus each and every day.
As transformed disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. We do that practicing spiritual disciplines. Through the classical spiritual disciplines (i.e., prayer, meditation, fasting, study, worship, etc.), God gives us the grace we need to grow spiritually.
This changes us from who we were, basically a sinner doomed for hell, into a forgiven sinner destined for an eternity with God.
Don’t take a relationship with Jesus too lightly. Don’t just stay a spiritual baby. Grow into a true disciple who has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
No, you cannot earn salvation; it is a free gift.
But Jesus will never force a relationship on anyone either. Simply knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Him personally.
Do your part to cooperate with God by practicing spiritual disciplines. After all, you can’t be a disciple without discipline.