Intentional Discipleship



Scripture

Luke 17:1   Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2 It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

Observation

Jesus understood the need for his disciples to grow spiritually. If they were to be leaders in the kingdom they would have to act responsibly. Their behaviors were not to become a stumbling block to those who were still young in their faith. In fact, there would be grave consequences for those who played this role in the life of new believers. 

Discipleship required an attentiveness to the temptations we all face. Therefore we receive the admonition to “Be on our guard!” Disciples are to grow within a faith community, one which takes responsibility for the training up of others, and therefore hold one another to accountability. This call to accountability needs to be followed by repentance. Jesus reminds us that this make take time and may be a process — one in which we are to forgive over and over again. We do not give up hope, because our heavenly Father does not give up hope. Instead, we are compelled by the process of intentional discipleship to make a difference in the world. 

Application

Jesus commanded his followers to go and make disciples. During his time on earth Jesus became a role model who left us a pattern for this discipleship. It is the intentional investment in the lives of others which results in a beautiful reflection of the image of God.

I’m afraid that the intentional investment in others has been encroached upon by our busy lives. Historically the church scheduled very specific times for discipleship. Usually this happened during the Sunday School, or in other small group meetings. Teachers used to come to training sessions so that they knew how to teach others. Accountability was built into the church system, all the way from the local church through her systems and structures. Did they ever fail or make mistakes? Of course. I think that’s what Jesus was talking about. Part of discipleship is being willing to forgive those who repent, and that includes not just individuals, but even organizations. 

When we realize that we are all in a place of growth spiritually, we have to allow for grace. Grace is what opens the pathway for repentance and forgiveness. Sadly, it seems that we are often the hardest on those with whom we are called to do life. The result is a rigidity from which we cannot learn, and once we stop learning, we no longer continue developing as a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

It is the holy love of God that continually reaches out and forgives humanity. The Father wants to gather his children under his wing and bring them home. He will not give up on us! As disciples we are challenged to reflect that kind of love; a love that is tenacious and is never defeated. As we pour into the lives of others, we must not only cheer them on, but engage with them in the journey toward Christlikeness. This will include modeling, rebuking, repenting and forgiving; intentional discipleship. 

Prayer


Lord, to follow you is to love you. May your love fill me to overflowing so that it touches the lives of others and I will participate i your mission to make disciples. Amen. 

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