When I was 11 years old, my dad decided to step into self-employment. He and our neighbour purchased several hundred acres to develop into building lots, and within the next 18 months he ruptured a disk in his back, was bedridden for months, and the housing market collapsed. We lost our personal home to foreclosure (although, thankfully, the bank manager allowed us to continue living in it) and the future looked pretty bleak.
During those years, when my parents’ faith was tested, my brother and I were discipled.
We talk about discipleship in church circles, and often don’t define it well. A disciple is simply someone who learns from someone else. A person can be a disciple of Sigmund Freud, or of Adele: it isn’t necessarily a spiritual term. In the Christian community, however, we use this word to describe the process of learning from Jesus, and learning to follow Jesus.
So, when I say that we were discipled, I mean that we saw my parents cling to Jesus and trust in God’s Story (the Bible) in the midst of hard times. We watched them continue to be involved in the church, and strive to make the best of their circumstances. Discipleship didn’t stop because times got hard, instead discipleship got real. They showed us what it looks like to follow Jesus when the ground shifts.
Now it’s my turn, and I need to remember that I will be discipling others, whether I know it or not, as I walk through this coming week. And so will you. Our kids, our friends, family members and neighbours will be watching to see if and how we follow Jesus in these uncertain times.
So what can we do? Writing to people whom he had discipled, the apostle Paul described his strategy this way in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-13:
Speak truthfully You know we never used flattery… We were not looking for praise from people… (verses 5-6)
Live transparently Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well… (verses 7b-8)
Encourage and comfort For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory (verse 11-12)
Point them beyond yourself, to God & His Word And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe (verse 13).
The beautiful thing about Christian discipleship is that we don’t have to have it all together before we disciple our kids or our friends. We’re not creating personal followers, but are instead pointing people to God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. When we are afraid, when we are struggling and despairing, we can run to God in prayer, read scripture and sing songs of worship, and we can encourage others to do the same.
In the midst of COVID19, Northview Church STILL exists to make disciples. The calling on God’s people doesn’t stop, it just gets real. Blessings on you this week, as you answer His call to make disciples.