David Watson in his classic book, ‘Discipleship’ asks ‘Why is the church in the West so flabby?’ He says, “It is because Christians in the West have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority of western Christians are church-members, pew-fillers, hymn-singers, sermon-tasters, Bible-readers, even born-again-believers or Spirit-filled-charismatics – but not true disciples of Jesus. If we were willing to learn the meaning of real discipleship and actually to become disciples, the church in the West would be transformed, and the resultant impact on society would be staggering.” (1)
But it’s more than this. The spirit of regeneration is not activism. It’s incarnation.
Discipleship is not a discipline or form or religion. It an incarnation whereby Christ becomes us. It’s more than ‘Getting in to being good disciples.’ Church folks have been banging the ‘zeal drum’ ever since I was a youth. The scripture in Revelation, ‘You are neither hot nor cold’ was often quoted by way of jolting us into more zeal, more works and sadly more legalism for God.
Diligent enthusiasm is never a substitute for the Spirit manifesting as Maud and Fred. Christ in you is the hope of you as a Life-Giver.
We cannot manufacture ‘discipleship’ just as we cannot manufacture community. What we can do is embrace Christianity not as a religion but as an incarnation – which is what it was always meant to be. Jesus’ prayer prior to the cross was, ‘May they be one as we are one. I in them and you and me.’ So it’s not more discipleship, more zeal or more ‘gifts.’ It living what we already have: Incarnated with the Trinity.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” John 14.23 NIV.
Here we are talking union with Christ of the kind in which He becomes us by the Spirit and His discipleship becomes ours. On this path we become disciples in spirit and in truth because we are a manifestation of His Sonship/discipleship. In this mode the avenue of discipleship
is you and you serve the Lord by being yourself and doing things to multiply life that are an expression of you – of your design and of your destiny as a servant of the Lord.
You serve the Lord best by being the true expression of yourself in Christ, rather than a cipher of some well-meant institutional outreach that is the fruit of pragmatism rather than the leading of the Spirit.
(1) Watson, David. Discipleship . John Murray Press. Kindle Edition.