What does a diet and discipleship have in common?

Many Americans make resolutions every January to lose weight. They try the latest diet fad or craze for a while and lose some unwanted pounds. I am currently doing intermittent fasting. The results are a bit muddled right now. The first two weeks I tried it, I gained 10 pounds and lost a half inch around my waist. I’m probably gonna donate my body to science when I die; they will want to study my curious body. With most diets, we want fast, immediate results and are not willing to put the hard work in to make long sustainable lifestyle changes to get and keep the results we want. Enter discipleship! We treat discipleship the same way. We want the results of obedience to Christ, but are unwilling to make the necessary lifestyle changes to make it happen.

I want to be clear about what I mean by discipleship. Many people hear that word and they immediately think of small groups, Sunday school, sermons, or discipleship retreats. These are all good things, but you can be involved with all of them and never actually be a disciple. A simple definition of discipleship is following Jesus, learning His ways, living it out, and then teaching others to do the same with the understanding that you have a personal relationship with Jesus. You have been saved by grace through faith and you are now committed to following Him. Discipleship starts at salvation and ends when you are in His presence after death. Discipleship is hard and you will battle your sinful flesh many times to stay surrendered to Jesus. Here is the good news; IT IS WORTH IT! 

I am not trying to scare you away from from this faith journey. I don’t want you to join it like a fad diet; do it because you have weighed the options and counted the cost. Consider how Jesus put it to some of his would be followers. He told some that animals have a better home than him, because he was homeless. (Luke 9:57) Expect trouble, trials, and tribulation; you will need courage and His peace to make it. (John 16:33) You will be hated because of Jesus (John 15:18) You will have to deny and die to yourself to be able to follow Him. You will have to lose your life to find it. (Luke 9:23-24) These are just a few examples. But you get the sense that Jesus was fine with you actually considering the weight of this decision. He wanted it to be a move that you knew would radically transform your lifestyle, thoughts, attitudes, and actions. If that is not something you want, then walk away. In one section of the gospel, it said that many stopped following him after they heard his teachings. Yet, Jesus didn’t panic nor did he start a new church campaign to get them back. He just kept leading the followers who had reached the place in life where they realized they had no place to go other than with Jesus. They could not find eternal hope elsewhere. (John 6:66-69) Jesus knew that the process of being a disciple and making disciples would mean you give up on some comforts of this life and that it would be extremely difficult to live out at times. Yet, it is possible to do. You will have to rely on His word, His Spirit, and other believers.

This discipleship journey may have some lonely moments, but it is not meant to be done alone. First, Jesus promised to always be with us. Second, we are to be in community and fellowship with other believers. The church is supposed to be like this, but many times it is easy to slip in and out of church without feeling connected to anyone. I believe strongly in small group ministries. It is a place to share my faith journey with others. Sometimes, I am the one encouraging others and other times I am being encouraged. We hold each other accountable, we challenge each other, we share our struggles and our victories. We pray for each other and study the Scriptures. We know each other well and we don’t have to put on masks or have a fake facade. It is a beautiful thing to actually be able to see other believers as well as yourself grow in your relationship with Jesus. It gets even better when you begin seeing each other take steps of faith toward obedience that would not have been even considered years earlier. We aren’t just meeting to meet or because it’s the thing to do. We do it because we need each other and want to be faithful followers of Jesus. We want to be disciples who are committed to making other disciples. These are the rewards and enjoyment we experience in this life that are rich and fulfilling. Plus, I didn’t even mention the eternal rewards of being a disciple who makes disciples. The last benefit of being a disciple who is committed to making disciples is the reality of knowing that you are being obedient to the command of Jesus. It is a sweet spot in our soul when we can actually know that we are doing what He said to do. We don’t have to wonder or feel ashamed. We have a peace and confidence in knowing we are loving Him by keeping his commands.

So you need to make a change; that’s why you pick a diet. You want your clothes to fit better, you hate being out of shape and out of breath all the time, or maybe it’s a health reason. Whatever it is, it will take a lifestyle change and hard work to accomplish your goal. It will not be easy.  The same is true of discipleship. It is hard and you will have to alter your lifestyle to make it happen. Is discipleship something you should consider? Ask yourself these questions. Do I want my faith to grow to new heights? Do I want to have a closer walk with Jesus and feel his presence? Is my faith in a rut, stagnant, or flat out boring? Do I want to be encouraged, challenged, and connected to other believers? Do I actually want to bear fruit and do good works? Do I want to make a real kingdom impact that will matter in eternity? If you answered no to most or all of these, then you may want to evaluate your heart and priorities. If you answered yes, then you need to find a way to get involved in some type of discipleship group or class. If you need help figuring out what that is in your context I’d love to help. Either comment below or send me a message. Jesus is still calling people just like you to follow Him. Count the cost and go all in.

Grace and peace to you as you commit to being a disciple that makes disciples. I pray that you have a huge kingdom impact for the glory of God.

 

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