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A disciple is a person following Jesus on a journey of deepening connection with God, which makes a difference in four key relationships in their lives - with God, others, self, and creation.
Pastor John Stephens recently quoted Richard Rohr in a sermon as he describes what it means to follow Jesus: "To follow Jesus is to follow him out of the old legality of living in the world’s systems and into the new reality of living in a much larger truth. It is the move beyond the first levels of faith and on to the mature level. It is to get out of membership and into discipleship. It is to get past relating to God as Law-Giver to discovering God as LIFE-Giver.”
Discipleship, also called spiritual formation, is the process of transforming our inner self through a deepening connection with God, so that the “life with God” (a term coined by Richard Foster) seen in the Bible naturally and freely comes to pass in us. In other words, our inner self becomes the home of Jesus, and therefore, our thoughts, words, and deeds become more characteristic of Jesus. Paul says it this way, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
"As his disciple, I am learning from him how to live my life in the Kingdom as he would if he were I. The natural outcome is that my behavior is transformed. Increasingly, I routinely and easily do the things he said and did.” (Dallas Willard)
Discipleship . . .
is a journey, not a moment; it is dynamic, not static; it is personal, not uniform or cookie cutter. Journeys have a destination toward which they move.
The discipleship journey . . .
should continually lead to the destination of a transformed self. It’s not a “one and done,” or “been there, done that” experience.
Discipleship should lead to a change . . .
which makes a difference in four key relationships – our relationship with God, others, ourselves, and creation. These are the four key relationships which were all broken by the disobedience of our spiritual grandparents, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) but that can be healed by Jesus Christ.
The lives of mature disciples are characterized by observable differences. They are submitted to and honoring of God every moment. Disciples manifest fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
If you would like some assistance with developing your own personal discipleship pathway, Ginny Itz, Teresa Rossy, or Chris Ferguson would be happy to help you. Please feel free to contact any of them.