Kingdom Principle: Disciples must be disciplined
Being disciplined will be either a reward or a punishment…. Based on the goal.
|Genesis 1:1-2:4a||Psalm 8||2 Corinthians 13:11-13||Matthew 28:16-20|
Our God is a God of Process…. This Sunday is called Trinity Sunday, and the Scriptures unfold the process of God’s plan for creation to bear His image and to rule and reign according to in His Ways. This Sunday also begins the longest season of the Lectionary Calendar – After Pentecost. In this season the lectionary directs us through the current age (God’s Kingdom on this earth, initiated by Christ) and how we are to proceed and progress as the church (Kingdom Agents awaiting Christ’s return) until the culmination of all things. I am excited to see where the Lectionary will take of over this next three months and how it will inform our Discipleship Process.
To embrace the need to be discipled, is to embrace the reality that you are not perfect and have need for growth. For change to take place in our lives, it is going to take an outside force pressing in against us. This force is necessary in the process of discipline, and the great force which we must turn is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 12:11, tells us that no discipline is pleasant at the time, but that it will produce a harvest and John 15:1-8 presents the metaphor of pruning, which tells us that discipline leads us to greater growth and expression. In pruning, “healthy shoots” of the vines are cut off, and this is not a pleasantry or a gentle release, this is a “painful” cutting away (discipline) for the eyes of the master gardener know this action alone will produce more growth. Jesus tells this parable with the hope that the disciples will grow and abide Him, being thankful for such a gardener rather than being filled with disgust or resentment, for this goal is to bring joy to us and glory to God.
Matthew 28 proclaims Jesus command to the disciples (note there are only 11 – which indicates incompleteness and need for growth) which has been made famous as the Great Commission. This commission is to MAKE DISCIPLES…. This is the command of the passage, everything thing else in the passage supports it and clarifies this act. In Genesis 1, God gave a similar to command – Be Fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over… every living creature…. This is also a call to and process of discipleship. To be fruitful and multiply is to raise up others to become mature and to further participate in the work you are doing. This work to Subdue & Rule… is in alignment with the call to Make Disciples. It is a call to have authority and power, and the process of discipleship increases your awareness of authority and access to power. All of this takes time and is a process.
In 2 Cor. 13 Paul brings to light the areas of focus in the process of discipleship. Elsewhere, I have spoken of my admiration for Steven Covey’s 7 Habits. Habit 7 “Sharpen the Saw” brings to light that our lives are multi-dimensional… Covey uses 4 quadrants of life to ensure we mature in balance; Spiritual, Physical, Mental , and Social/Emotional. In Verse 11, Paul calls believers to mature in the same manner. “Be perfected (Greek: katartizo) connects physically, be comforted (Greek: parakaleo) connects socially, be of the same mind (Greek: auto phroneo) connects mentally, live in peace (Greek: eireneuo)connects spiritually.The Great Commandment (Mark 12:28-31), tells us to love the Lord our God with all our Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength. I see these four as aligning with the above as well. It is common place in church circles to emphasis the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as the way in which we shall become (discipleship) a Great Church.
While this is a holistic process by which we mature, Paul reminds us that our maturity is not the end goal in itself. Rather the end goal is to bring glory to God, (1 Cor. 6:20, 10:31; 2 Cor. 4:13-15; Phil 3; 2 Thess. 1:11-12) and this is done as we further experience and express the realities of verse2 Cor. 13:13/14 (different translations have the final verse of Ch. 13 as either verse 13 or 14. Regardless of verse number, the Trinitarian call further expands the depth into which we are baptized.) Paul gives this as a blessing, much like the blessing of Gen.1:28, “May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” This blessing is the means by which discipleship is enjoyed and discipline is a reward. It is not a program to complete it is a relationship to develop. (Notice last week how we mature in the gifts in a Trinitarian fashion as well.)
The crux of the passages this week is that, you and I are made in the image of God, and God bears an image that is three-in-one. To fully understand your call and to live into the fullness of your Identity, you must journey more deeply into the Identity of God. This is one of the main reasons that I hold a tri-part view of our human formation (spirit, soul, and body) verses a bi-part view (soul, body).
Questions to ponder this week:
How have you seen your heart, mind, body, and relationships develop and mature uniquely from each other? (Meaning, where have you seen your body be disciplined, but not your mind, or do you find yourself more disciplined with your heart (spiritual connections) or with your relationships (social connections).
Who has discipled you? In what area of focus did they focus…
Who are you discipling? Many do not consider themselves “capable” to disciple another person; please remember that Jesus gave the Great Commission, as a command not a suggestion. This command he gave to a broken and beat-up group of fisherman and followers who had recently been splintered and their leader (Peter) even denied knowing Jesus…. Further some were filled with hesitation (doubt) when the saw Jesus, while others were ready to worship…. The same commission was given to them…. So – If you don’t have a “who” – to whom are you discipling? What does it mean to you to disciple another? – And – what is one step you can take to be ready to move in that direction?