‘Come, follow me’ – the first words heard on the lips of Jesus in Mark’s gospel. They demand a response, they demand action, they demand change, they demand movement.
If we stick at only listening to Jesus, we may develop an intellectual awareness of who he is and even what he might anticipate from his disciples, but we shall never be one of them. Even if we move on from listening and start looking at where Jesus’ words might apply in our lives, we might succeed in convincing ourselves we’ve acted on his words, but then we read what James tells us and realise the reality:
‘Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.’ James 1:22-25.
Living is the third phase of the discipleship cycle where the seed begins to take root, the step forwards brings momentum, the understanding begins to translate from head to heart, and the overflow of the heart begins to express itself (Matthew 12:34).
We arrive at doing something by asking ourselves the question: ‘if this is the word of God for me, right now, in this particular area, what must I do?’
1.Pray by spending some time meditating on the words of scripture you began with, as well as the area/s of your life, or beyond, where you’re sensing these words need to be applied.
2. Write down, in one sentence, what you are going to do as a result. It’s not simply my age why I encourage anyone to write it down, but the neuroscience research (those who write them down are 42% more likely to achieve their goals).
3. Make sure the next time you plan to review where you are with the discipleship cycle is in your diary, and is realistically going to happen (in my experience these two don’t always coincide!)
4. Before you move on, pray into what you’re planning to do. This may result in highlighting some of the obstacles for you moving ahead. Jot them down too.
By doing something about whatever we’ve heard, we’re simply trying to ensure we are ‘living on purpose’. If we take Isaiah 55:11 seriously it is this step which will make all the difference, because the purpose for which God spoke these words will begin to become apparent. The Message translates what Jesus says about being light very helpfully:
‘You’re here to be the light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket do you?’ (Matthew 5:14-16)
Living is doing something, which may initially be visible to others, or not. Be patient and remember a change on our inside will soon become apparent in attitudes, actions or words. Living is being faithful to the words we’ve heard from God, which apply to our lives right now. Living is taking a step of obedience in the right direction. Eugene Peterson’s book ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ is a great description of a life of faithful obedience. No journey of discovery is completed in a single step, but each step along the way is necessary.
What’s your next step?
If you’d like a discipleship coaster to help you round the discipleship cycle, get in touch with Alex Drew.
For a simple format to help you write down what you’re hearing, seeing and planning to do click here.