Missing Discpleship Part 2

Holy Week has now passed, and it’s time to turn our attention to Jesus’ ascension. After Jesus rose again from the grave, he appeared to people for 40 days. Jesus called his disciples together on a mountain, and ascended into Heaven. As he ascended, he gave the charge to his disciples to make more disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded. If Jesus has all this authority and has given us the marching orders, why is the American church struggling so much? Why do we feel like the walls are caving in on Christianity? Why do we feel the kingdom is not expanding, even in our own communities? 
To answer these questions, we are examining some of the probable pitfalls that stagnate church growth. Last month, I wrote about how we can accidentally disciple people to a system of doctrine or a church, rather than leading people to Jesus. We could call this error, the big whiff. We can work really hard to get people on our side of thinking, but we fail to lead them to Jesus. They may love our church, or a preacher, or a book, or calvinism…but they still don’t know Jesus, yet. 
Yet, there are still other pitfalls in regards to discipleship. Probably the largest pitfall, the one most encountered is the hardness of our own hearts toward discipleship. There are two common reactions to the prospect of a discipleship relationship.  
First, one might feel resistant to allowing another person to exercise authority over us. This reaction can be seen in the way that people will listen to the teaching of a pastor, that is, until they disagree with them. At the point of disagreement, the western mind says, “either we can agree to disagree, or I can’t agree with you; I’m out.” There is a cultural narrative that says “I’m the boss of me.” Authority has become relative. This cultural narrative is subtle, and even though the Church speaks against this kind of thinking, we never the less practice it in regards to discipleship. For example, we allow the Word of God to be our guide…but we usually focus on the parts of Scripture that we agree with.  
The second reaction comes when we are encouraged to disciple others. Whether the humility be sincere or false, we become unwilling to enter into a discipleship relationship with others because we in some way feel largely inadequate for the task. The reason this is so is because WE ARE LARGELY INADEQUATE FOR THIS TASK! Who is sufficient for these things?  Only by the grace of God, granted to us in Jesus Christ, and the power supplied by the Holy Spirit can we ever be qualified for such a task. Thanks be to God that those who are in Christ Jesus have been given the God-given grace to carry it out…not in perfection, but with obedience. Inadequate qualifications are never an appropriate excuse against obedience to the commands of God. 
The solution is, in discipling and being discipled, we must humbly obey. We must submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ, trusting that his will is for our sanctification. He has placed people in the Church to build us up to maturity, and we must submit to their guidance and authority. Likewise, we must humbly guide and disciple others, knowing that our lives are not perfect models of obedience, but that they should point to one who is, Jesus Christ. 
To be continued…

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