For the last two weeks in worship , we’ve focused on Christ’s call to “follow me.” I’ve asked you to evaluate the state of your own soul. Is your love for Christ warm and vital, or have you forsaken your first love? (Rev. 2:4)
Christ first forgives our sin, restores our relationship with the Father, and gives us new life. From that beginning, Christ wants to lead us so that our entire lives, our thoughts and desires, our words and actions are all submitted to his lordship.
In Matthew 28:19,20 Jesus commanded the disciples to “Go into all the world and make disciples... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” ‘Everything’ is a big word. It is a high standard.
Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). In other words, if Christ commands it, then he also makes the way for me to do it. Maybe the possibility of actually satisfying Christ’s call is more daunting than hearing the call itself. If I can persuade myself that the goal is unattainable, then I can be satisfied where I am.
However, if we expect to reach this goal in one step would we be doomed to failure. We would also be missing the point of discipleship.
Discipleship is not a one time decision. Conversion can be, but discipleship requires the decisions of a lifetime. Discipleship is starting where I am right now, and taking the next step in following Christ, and then doing it all over again. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on...” That is discipleship, the willingness to press on. This is why the regular practice of nurturing our souls is so essential. The disciplines of Bible reading and study, prayer and worship are all means by which God provides the desire, strength and guidance to “press on.”
In a sense it is like an athlete and a coach. An athlete has a coach to improve their performance. Once the coach is on board, the coach becomes the boss. At each practice, every fitness training, at each meal, the coach decides what is to be done, and the athlete follows.
In a similar way, the Bible becomes our coach, giving constant guidance and correction. Prayer becomes our link of our spirit to the Holy Spirit. Worship puts us regularly in our proper place as followers of the God we worship.
So if you are taking seriously the call of Christ to “follow me,” the essential ingredient is his training. When we give ourselves to his training on a regular basis we are giving ourselves to him, one step at a time. And after all, that is the only way to follow.
Yours in Christ, Pastor Byron
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