One of the misconceptions about discipleship I think we get wrong constantly is that discipleship is simply a function of growing in holiness. What I mean by this is that often when we think about becoming disciples, we think about becoming a less sinful version of ourselves. In reality, discipleship, according to Jesus has the end result of becoming like Him.
Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
-Jesus, Luke 6:40
I think many of us have different ideas of what this looks like. Regardless of what you think this looks like, God has more in mind than a less-sinful-version-of-you. In reality, God is calling you not to be Jesus, but by the power of the Holy Spirit follow Jesus and reflect His very nature to the world around you.
There’s a progression to this that many fail to understand. We grow in stages. John the Apostle talks about this in his first epistle:
I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
-John the Apostle, 1 John 2:12-14
Obviously, John sees growth in godliness in this passage. But he lists three different stages of life in Christ that help us see discipleship differently: Fathers, young men, and children*. Each of these have characteristics that we could analyze, but I want us to look at this passage from just a slightly different angle. If I’m reading this right, these are all believers. Some have just recently accepted Christ (children), some have been with Christ longer and achieved some victory over sin (young men), and some have known Christ since the beginning (fathers).
Here’s the point: You may find yourself in one specific section of this passage. You may be a child in the faith, having just come to Christ. You may even be a young man (or woman) in the faith, who has overcome some level of sin and become stronger in your walk. But there is a progression here. Children shouldn’t stay children forever. Young men shouldn’t go forever without becoming fathers. We’re all called to continue progressing in our faith to the place of fatherhood.
One of the implications of this is that we all grow from knowing Christ as our savior, to overcoming our old lifestyle, to becoming one who truly knows God and passes on the life of Christ to others. I believe the church suffers currently because we all have visions of becoming young men (overcoming evil in our lives) but few of us have a vision for truly knowing Christ and becoming fathers (and mothers), passing on the life of Jesus on to new believers and helping grow them up in the faith.
When everyone in our churches believes they can grow to the place of spiritual fatherhood and begins to move in that direction, we begin to see the movement of the New Testament that Jesus started take shape. We don’t become gurus, instead we become those who know and love Christ and are helping others find that same love. We raise these children up to be young men (and women) and eventually fathers (and mothers). Spiritual families (called churches) begin to sprout up that result in more spiritual families over time.
My goal in writing this morning is that we understand that God has more for us. We aren’t designed to live forever bringing people to hear someone else teach God’s word. We are designed to become fathers and mothers in our own right and to help the children in the faith around us have spiritual children as well. Don’t believe you could never disciple someone. Don’t believe you can’t start a spiritual family. It’s in your spiritual DNA. It’s just a matter of growing up in the Lord.
*Don’t get hung up on gender language here. I’m part of the bride of Christ. Ladies are sons of God. The point isn’t the gender, the point is the stage of life.
So a month or so back I went on a little Tweetstorm about how Christians use the word “movement.” Looking back, I think I probably should have blogged those thoughts. But that’s the beauty of Twitter, right? Regardless, for those who missed it, I thought I would post the tweets in succession so my readers can think through these same ideas. Let me know your thoughts!
Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny. These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site. Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.
It’s painfully obvious that summer is almost over. Now we await the cold of Fall and Winter. The plus side is my office will become more usable and that may mean more time for blogging. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and let you know if that ever materializes.
I was encouraged by this call to repentance from Bob Roberts Jr. It lacked the typical “time to take back America from the Godless” rhetoric, but still called America back to God in practical, essential ways.
God calls us to set up monuments to His work in our lives. In this post, Josh recounts the moments God has directed him in supernatural ways to work and live among the poor of the Earth.
One of the things that I’ve been hearing from the Lord is that our inability to work as a team is a hindrance to creating disciple making movements. Guy’s post is an excellent primer on what makes teams work.
I’m encouraged by the fact that more and more people are gaining this perspective. Church planting is fruitless unless it is the result of new converts coming to Jesus.
BONUS MEDIA LINK:
Lex Loizides, uber Christian historian from the New Frontiers tribe, made his conference session on the history of the Salvation Army available for download. The Salvation Army has an amazing history that should provoke us all to live a missional lifestyle and Lex’s retelling of their story is a great way to “touch the bones” of this movement.
Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers whTho have never been to Pursuing Glory.
Weird, huh? I’m in Africa while you’re reading this and I was planning a trip to Africa (this time Ethiopia) two years ago. This was the start of an amazing journey with lots of new friends and spiritual giants. My time in Ethiopia changed my world.
The church of Jesus Christ has a particular obligation to care for widows. It should be difficult to separate the true church with the care of widows, but sadly, it’s not. This is one of my first “Notes from the Margin” posts where I’m wrestling through 1 Timothy and Paul’s prescription for the care of widows.
This post is a short meditation on the nature of movements. This thought came because of the love the people in my sphere had shown me. My hope is we all have a chance to be a part of something like this.
This post is me wrestling with my blogging style. Should I be a blogger who writes about whatever is in my mind at the time? Or should I be a strategic blogger, waiting for content that is relevant and in the Lord’s timing? I’m still wrestling with this idea to some degree. After the death of Osama Bin Laden, this post seems a little dated and a little timeless all at the same time.
It seems like no matter how many things change, they still stay the same. In 2007 I was planning my first trip to Uganda. By the time you’ll read this, I will be there again.
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On a somewhat irregular basis I post a blog in my “Notes from the Margin” series. The point of the series is not just what I’m finding in Scripture and what I write, but also what you’re finding in Scripture and what you’re writing about it. If you have a blog, I’d love to see you take this series and do your own. You can check out the guidelines for Notes from the Margins and read examples of the series here and here.
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Yesterday I discovered myself leafing through my copy of “Houses that Change the World” (Affiliate Link). In my head I added it to an imaginary list of books I’ve been wanting to read or re-read for a long time.
So I thought I would share my list of “need to reads” and see if anyone else wanted to share theirs.
If I had all the time in the world to read, here’s what I’d be reading:
- Listen to Me, Satan! by Carlos Anacondia
- The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church by Rolland Allen
- The Starfish and The Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
- The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch
- Houses that Change the World by Wolfgang Simson
- The Starfish Manifesto by Wolfgang Simson
(Those are all affiliate links, by the way.)
So, just out of curiosity, what have you been hoping to read lately?
Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers who have never been to Pursuing Glory.
I received an early copy of Primal, a book by National Community Church pastor Mark Batterson. This was a good read that took a look at loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Jesus raises up movements that sweep large numbers of souls into the Kingdom of God. In this post, I look at the nature of movements as unpacked by Mark Driscoll during an Acts 29 gathering. It’s good food for thought if you’ve never though of Christianity as a movement.
So I bought this new bible (Wide Margin ESV) and it inspired me to start a new feature where bloggers (in particular, me) talk about what we’re learning as we’re reading through the Bible. I’ve done a few more like it, and I would love to see others join me. If you’re interested, let me know.
I always love wishing someone a “Merry Christmas.” You really can’t do much better on a Christmas post than to challenge materialism, talk about the incarnation of Christ, and quote Dr. Seuss. This post may set the standard for my Christmas greetings in the future.
I was just a new blogger in 2006, but I also became a new dad! This was the only blog of December 2006, but it announces the birth of my first child. She’s just as special four years later as she was when I posted this.
“Jesus lives on in an apostolic mission that advances by church multiplication.” – Wolfgang Simson
If you’re familiar with the New Testament, you know Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke as a historical account of Jesus before, during, and immediately after the cross. What some don’t realize is the book of Acts is Luke’s historical account of the resurrected Jesus’ activity as He leads and guides the church into the very activities that characterized His ministry on Earth (cf. John 14:12-14, Acts 1:1-3). The heart of the matter is this: Jesus’ post resurrection ministry was lived out through the church in the book of Acts in the form of a multiplying church movement.
Let’s look at some quick facts. The Church Jesus left was insubstantial compared to the crowds who had followed Him before His death. Paul speaks of Christ appearing to 500 people after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Since this is the highest number of post-resurrection numbers spoken of and Paul refers to these men as brothers, my assumption is they were the lump some of Jesus’ followers. Yet, by the early third century, this relatively obscure band of five hundred had become somewhere between 5 and 10% of the Roman Empire and up to 30% of some major cities.
The book of Acts records the harvest in language that should both stun us and move us to action. When Peter preaches at Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2, a massive harvest of 3,000 new believers come to the Lord. Luke describes it this way: and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41). This continued on for a season in the life of the early church (Acts 2:47, 5:14) and the results were significant growth that all of us would love to have.
However, eventually the church began to feel the burden of it’s growth. The result was a decision to multiply leadership beyond the apostles to the men we refer to as deacons in Acts 6. When this multiplication of ministry happened, a small but significant shift occurs in Luke’s story. Instead of the church having new members added to them, the church begins to multiply (Acts 6:7). The church didn’t just multiply one time. It multiplied several times (Acts 9:31, 12:24)
This is more than just semantics. The shift in language represents the fact that instead of just a few people doing much of the work, many people were embracing the mission of God. See, addition works like this: 2+2+2+2+2+2=12. Multiplication works like this: 2x2x2x2x2x2=64. The more multiplication you have happening the bigger the results. This is why Paul would tell Timothy to take what he had taught him and teach it to faithful men who would teach it to other faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2). It was a God-sized idea to expand the Kingdom.
And you couldn’t stop this multiplying church. Its multiplication made it hard to know where it started or ended. Before you knew it, this little group of Jesus followers became a multitude that had no visible leader. You could kill one of the leaders, but another would rise in its place. It’s why human’s hate viruses: they multiply out of control. This is what allowed the first century church to reach an unprecedented amount of people in such a short period of time.
Beloved we find ourselves in a season of history where we must recapture the spirit of evangelism and multiplication that gripped the early church. This isn’t a call to return to only first century practices, but to capture those elements that made them vital and caused the Gospel to spread like a virus throughout earth. Jesus is worthy of His name going forth and redeeming many in this hour. May we, like them, be consumed for His name’s sake and see the church multiply in the Earth.