Discipleship: Unwrapping the Gift
The great news of hope is that JESUS CHRIST has arrived to heal our souls, our families, and our futures. Discipleship is how many people come to Christ and begin to open His gift of a future and a hope.
Characteristics of Discipleship
Children are trusting, fun-loving, and humble. Jesus emphasized the need for humility and trust for all children of God. As children of our Dad in Heaven, we are just that: children. Discipleship is learning to leave behind our pride and know-it-all ideas, while growing in humility, trust, and godly wisdom. We learn how to have joy through trust, daily. In some mysterious way, we learn how to be better at being children. This process is called growing in grace... some call it discipleship.
Discipleship is proactive in healing and developing identity and the corresponding holiness. As a child of God learns his identity in Christ, he begins to worship, think, and live in spirit and in truth. His thinking, emotions, and daily activities begin to reflect the character of his Father. Discipleship isn't teaching a list of dos and don'ts. Discipleship is teaching the beautiful doctrines of God's grace, character, and salvation... And, teaching how to reflect those doctrines in daily life.
Discipleship seeks to heal the wounded soul and equip the believer to glorify God in daily life and dreams for the future! Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the believer finds inner healing and a rock-solid identity as a child of God, as new creature in Christ. This changes everything for his/her future! Without discipleship or with imbalanced discipleship, the healing can be stunted. Both Paul and Jesus warn disciplers about misleading or harming the sheep. This is a serious consideration for all teachers and pastors.
Healing is necessary for living out a hope-filled future in Christ. Through discipleship, we have to deal with each area of brokenness and invite the Holy Spirit into those spaces to heal and fill. If there is demonic oppression or strongholds in those spaces, they need to be evicted. And, the spaces need to be filled with the opposite. When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit in each broken place, he no longer reacts in ungodly ways when a trigger is pressed. A healed disciple produces the fruit of the Spirit, no matter which button is being pushed... because he is walking in/with the Spirit.
Many of the social and moral evils of our day can be prevented on a personal level in the life of a disciple through discipleship. If you look at the core of the moral evils that plague our world, they all stem from brokenness and broken identity. Discipleship equips a believer to make choices from a place of wholeness, resulting in more personal holiness. As the child of God seeks the kingdom of God and His righteousness daily, God works out the spiritual, financial, and physical details. Discipled believers grow into Biblical parents, Biblical employees, and Biblical community members.
Life-on-life discipleship seems to be God's plan for growing His children into mature adults. This is one reason why there is such a need for Christ-followers to mobilize. One Christ-follower can probably only disciple a small group of people really well. Discipleship takes place in the context of daily relationships, which requires consistent time together in intimate settings. Jesus had ministry to thousands, ministry to hundreds, and discipleship for 12. Jesus was consistent in modeling wisdom, teaching truth, and encouraging growth for a small group of people.
Teaching the disicple to love Christ and obey His commandments is the core of discipleship, This is done by introducing the disciple to walking with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the arm of God in discipleship. Discipleship introduces the sheep to Christ through His word and the Holy Spirit. This is an organic process that must be done through daily prayer on the part of the discipler. There's a human tendency to control or manipulate the sheep. It is true that we need to protect the sheep from wolves and false teachers. And, that is primarily done by equipping the disciple to read the word and recognize false doctrine. We always need to remember that the sheep belong to the Shepherd and we are only stewards of their discipleship. Our authority needs to diminish over the believer, as the authority of Christ increases in his life. This is easier said than done and requires a lot of prayer.
Discipleship is bringing the King to the neighborhoods, families, and children, so that the King can change His citizens from the inside out! The Kingdom culture invades the hearts, minds, and actions of the King's kids, resulting in generational repentance and spiritual renewal of parents, families, and children.
Shame! What is it good for?
Shaming is a strategy that is used in shame-culture countries to control and manipulate. There are a couple types of shaming that are used. It's a little difficult at first to identify shaming because it masquerades as morality and righteous correction. Some shaming is open and vocal, while others shame quietly. All shaming is manipulative and destructive.
Shaming hides inside a mist called cultural practice. The mist swallows up the victim, causing him to believe that he is the problem and not the perpetrator of shame. Shaming creates a power imbalance where the perpetrator (shamer) becomes the bully who has power over the victim. The victim believes that he deserves the shaming.
When used by pastors, parents and teachers, shaming is like pouring poison onto the petals of a flower. It's like the gardener slowly killing his plants. With each careful drop of shame, the flower wilts and weakens. Shaming creates an unhealthy self-hate and destroys trusting relationships.
People usually shame with good motives. They think, "If I shame this person, he will choose the right path next time." Shaming can cause that person to make the right choice later, but the choice is negated by the ill effects of the shame. Shame can breed fear and unhealthy guilt, rather than birth trust and repentance.
"But," you may be thinking, "how about guilt and shame because we're all sinners?" Good question.
There is only one Being in the world that is qualified to convict a person of shame and guilt: God. The Holy Spirit is kind, firm, and exact. He knows just how much knowledge of one's shameful, guilty condition is required to wake up a sinner to his need for Christ as Savior. The Holy Spirit produces a "godly sorrow, which leads to repentance." But, the world produces a "sorrow which leads to death." It is true that sinners should feel shame and guilt for being rebels against God. And, this is the job of the Holy Spirit.
It is my belief that a saint no longer has any shame or guilt to live with because all of the shame and guilt was absorbed by Jesus Christ on the cross. Vanquished! As a child of God, a believer now lives in relationship with his Heavenly Dad. When he feels guilt and shame, he needs to look to Jesus Christ and find peace, discipline, and restoration from His Dad's loving hand.
We shouldn't mistake the Holy Spirit's voice of rebuke for shame. I believe that the Holy Spirit always speaks the truth in love to the kids in God's family. Sorrow for one's sins and humility in seeking forgiveness is different than shame, I believe.
So, where did the shame go for a believer? Into Jesus Christ on the cross.
Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Does the Holy Spirit give you shame? No, He gives you joy, hope, and pours into your heart love. We can trust Him not to shame us.
Romans 5:3-4 "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Psalm 25:2 "O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me." Again, it is really important to differentiate between shame and humility. Humility is openly recognizing the truth about your situation. A Christ-follower is a saint who sins, so he should be truthful about his weaknesses. Shame attacks the identity of the saint and assaults the worth of Christ to absorb the shame for the sin that the saint is being truthful about.
Part of sanctification is realizing our identity as children of God and giving our shame to Christ. As we trust in Christ to have removed our shame, we will realize joy and hope. Trust is the opposite of fear. And, acceptance as a saint is the opposite of shame. Do you believe that? Or, do you continue to live in shame? Or, do you continue to shame the saints?
Isa 54:4 Fear not; for you shall not be ashamed: neither shall you be confounded; for you shall not be put to shame: for you shall forget the shame of thy youth, and shall not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 5 For your Maker is your husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
Discipleship is teaching believers to believe and live truth-filled lives that are authentic to their identity as holy children of God, saints seated in God's royal throne room with Christ Jesus.
Here are some tips for pastors:
1. Always remember that you are speaking for God to His royal children.
2. Be gentle, firm, timely, and loving in all of your speech and preaching.
3. Model humility... Deal with your own shame, if you have any.
4. Help the saints be delivered from the shame that they carry with them.
5. Don't shame the sheep... shepherd the sheep!
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.