I can’t over-emphasize the difference that discipleship has made in my life.
Growing up and as a young adult I had a very cold and insensitive manner towards most people. “I just don’t like people,” I would say. I thought that if I believed something to be true about someone, then it was fine to go ahead and say it, no matter if it was hurtful. I was harsh and unforgiving in my judgements of others and I always said what I thought. Looking back now I can see that I had hardened myself emotionally because of a difficult childhood full of verbal abuses meant to make me feel small. My Dad left when I was 12 and my Mom and my Step-Dad didn’t know Jesus. I really don’t think they knew how to love anyone but themselves. (Don’t we all struggle with this problem in one way or another, selfish creatures that we are?)
I was saved when I was 12 but it took a long time to realize that my attitude towards people was against what Jesus has taught in his word. My excuse of it being “true” didn’t take away the sting of my comments, not to mention the presumption that I was fit to make those judgements. Fast forward 10-15 years and I love people more than I ever thought possible (all credit to Jesus). I love my husband and my children of course, and I truly love the people in my church, but more than that, I even feel love for people I meet at a store or restaurant. God has certainly changed my heart! God has also brought people into my life that I am blessed to share my life with through discipleship.
But Jesus has shown me the greatest and only satisfying love is in himself, through the grace of his gospel. He has been shaking off the hardness of my heart ever since.
I can’t over-emphasize the difference that discipleship has made in my life. God used many people to help me grow in His grace, but certainly one person had a very large impact by simply allowing me to be around her and her family. She wasn’t perfect but that made it all the easier to love her. She was real and she always pointed me to Christ. She put up with my obnoxious tendency to say whatever I pleased and lovingly corrected me when the occasion called for it (which was often). She discipled me. She invited me into her everyday life and shared Jesus and the Word with me constantly. And to this day we are great friends. I don’t think she’ll ever quite know what her friendship meant to me.
I now have the opportunity to invite young women into my life. I’m not perfect (far from it!) but I do love these beautiful girls that God has seen fit to bring to our church and into my life. I pray that God would use even me to teach others for his glory and by his grace. And he will. Not because I’m qualified but because his grace makes up for all of my imperfect attempts to obey his call and his word. I always feel that I get more blessing from discipling them than they do! God is so good! Isn’t it just like God to give us the command of discipling others (Matthew 28:19,20 – 2 Timothy 2:2 – Titus 1) and by our obedience to that command bless us with such joy!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9
I used to think it was so strange that God would give me a heart and ministry of loving people. It felt like it was polar opposite to who I was. But really, it makes complete sense. All I ever wanted when I was young was love and I hardened my heart because I felt attacked rather than loved from the people around me. But Jesus has shown me the greatest and only satisfying love is in himself, through the grace of his gospel. He has been shaking off the hardness of my heart ever since. I can’t wait to see what the next 10, 20, 50 years will bring. He does so much more abundantly than all we can think or hope!
So if you’re a new Christian or feel you would benefit from discipleship (wouldn’t we all?), then I encourage you to seek someone out who can disciple you. If you attend New Haven, we have plenty of people who would be willing to meet with you and share their life with you. But I would also encourage you, if you’ve been a Christian for a while now, to consider discipling someone. Is there someone you can invite to be a part of your life as you share the Word of God with them? It doesn’t take a scholar. It doesn’t require perfection. It’s just takes a willingness to love.