Authentic Discipleship: Where Has It Gone Wrong?
One common problem why people especially Christians consider whatever ministry as a burden is that we fail to incorporate intentional discipleship into it. Yes, Christianity is about our journey with Christ and so with our fellowship to believers. This is where ministry through discipleship comes in. It is our responsibility to remind and encourage one another to keep going and to track how we are in our walk with God.
But what really is this discipleship? Is it really important? Can’t we just neglect it? Well, to answer these, quoting from Pastor Edmund Chan, “Discipleship is a relationship journey of falling in love with God.” Some Christians when talking about discipleship tend to acknowledge it as some kind of program relevant in a particular ministry or organization. We fall short in recognizing that discipleship is first of all a relationship, and this relationship is not just towards other people but our very relationship with Jesus Christ. Additionally, this is not just a typical relationship that we might think but an authentic one which is all about the heart, the spiritual disciplines, and transformation.
When this core of discipleship is fully understood, our turn in discipling others can now take off. This is having relationship with people whom we will mentor and together, we will also grow with them in the Lord. This is another crucial phase because along the way, we might get lost if we are not truly founded in Christ. And so, to avoid getting off track, we must make sure that we do it based on what Christ exemplified. Jesus Himself actually demonstrated discipleship with His circle of disciples. He showed authenticity in teaching them that He became intentionally relational. He did not focus on the number of disciples but on those who are willing to really learn from His ways.
If we come to look on how people handled discipleship over the years and examine those that were not able to endure to this time, a lot of causes might be identified. One is the worldly culture that some, if not many Christians, are having a hard time to let go of. In today’s generation, the world is decaying and all the more deceiving to its pursuit of truth, thus not-deeply rooted Christians are swayed by these tricks and tend to agree that everything is just normal for a disciple of Christ to participate to. We also tend to be complacent and some even tolerate carnality of fellow believers. Conflicts are as well rampant, and people are tired to give a fix of it hence divisions exist in the body of believers. Moreover, the world advances fast and we, Christians, choose to relax; some are focusing on self-seeking and self-pitying, and so are left out instead of making Christ trend all over the world. These things really make discipleship difficult to be authentic. But ultimately, the root cause is pointed to inability to fully understand the grace of God – the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ.
It grieves our spirit to see things happen that way. However, if these circumstances are real, so is our living God. As technology, sciences, and all other areas foster, God’s wisdom is much more limitless. As people continue to sin, His grace and mercy overflowingly abound. By knowing these, we clearly see that there is a call for discipleship, indeed – an authentic relationship that will bring us closer to God together with our friends, loved ones, and our fellow disciples. Will this be difficult? Yes, if we rely on ourselves. But with God, it will persevere. Remember that authentic discipleship is best accomplished if we journey with Jesus and surrender everything to Him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
May our Christian life be a daily seeking of our Master Jesus Christ as we sail in discipleship.