Examining what discipleship is and what it is not
21st century Christianity can be confusing. With all of the denominations and interpretations and approaches to Scripture it is hard to fathom they all claim to represent the same thing. So, what is the bottom line? Is being a Christian - a true Christian - a difficult way of life, or is it a privileged way of life? Does following Jesus place demands on you that are unreasonable to the average person? Or does it promise and deliver some kind of abundance that the average person would notice? Does Christianity fundamentally change you? Or does it help you be the best person you think you can be? Is following Jesus an exclusive calling of those who would do the hard work? Or does it work by way of general knowledge and discovery? Let’s see how Jesus describes what following him looks like and what it produces.
As we look at Christian life here in the 21st century, it is easy to notice a significant difference in how it works when compared to 1st century Christianity. Now we have sweeping individuality available in our churches. Now we are encouraged to find a church that suits us, that we are comfortable with. Back then, you became a Christian because you became a believer in Jesus and his sacrifice, and it was all about truth and salvation. Now our Christianity is easily focused on fitting into our comfort zone of service or praise or worship or giving. Back then, Christianity was focused on fitting the varied disciples into the mold of living for Christ. In short, modern Christianity is a far cry from original discipleship.
Does this mean that Christianity, which we will call discipleship, is a hard and unyielding mold we are forced into? Not at all! Make no mistake, there are difficult mountains to climb and challenging changes in character to accomplish. But these formidable tasks should not be allowed to overshadow the magnitude of blessing opportunity and growth that discipleship floods us with.
Peace, joy and overcoming
When Jesus tells all who are weary and heavy laden to come to him for rest, he means it. His promise is to show us how to navigate our world by leaning on him for grace, strength and inspiration. The Bible promises peace, joy and overcoming to those who become Jesus’ disciples. There are Scriptures that promise our highest needs being met and being led through our crises. Who wouldn’t want all that? Still, discipleship is a steep and narrow pathway.
How do we put these two seeming extremes together and make sense of following Christ? Check out our March 22, 2021 podcast, “Does Being a Christian Have to Be Difficult?” for answers. We walk through the hardships of discipleship and match them with its blessings and privileges. What we end up with is a clarity of purpose and a straightforward understanding of the why behind it all. Following Christ is not for the faint of heart, but it is the most blessed decision you can ever make!
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