Over the past year we have been more intentional about emphasizing the need for all believers to not just know the Word of God, but to also live lives that are consistent with His Word. We have edited several of our courses to provide more practical application of truth and have been very deliberate in calling ourselves and those that complete our courses to become unconditional followers, or disciples, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As part of our ongoing Life in Truth Discipleship events, we have been thrilled to watch the spiritual development of the young people who joined our first Blaze events this summer. The first was a three-week intensive program here in Dubuque, followed by a second three-week Blaze event in Peru. We thank the Lord for the young people who gave themselves to studying God’s Word and living out their faith with us here this summer. We pray that the Lord will use them in mighty ways as they return home and to their local churches.
As I think about the concept of discipleship, there are three things that stand out in my mind:
The call of discipleship is not just for the young! Every believer has been called to be a disciple. We must remember the words of the Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19‑20). Someone recently remarked that we have taken the command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach and mutated it into a comfortable call to come, be baptized, and sit.
The Lord had strong words for those who called themselves followers, but lived for themselves, “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). There is a cost to being an unconditional follower of Christ. Are we willing to pay that price? We are also called to be worthy of Him. Many years ago, an English preacher said, “It is one of the supreme handicaps of the church that in it there are so many distant followers of Jesus and so few real disciples.”
Following Christ is a lifelong pursuit; one that glorifies the Lord as well as one that brings joy and a more intimate relationship with our Savior. The Lord gave His all for us. How can we do less? “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
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