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What discipleship isn't

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Discipleship is not an activity.  It is not an event or a class.  Neither is discipleship a list of spiritual activities that “we work on” to become better Christians. 

Discipleship is a lifelong, till death do us part relationship between the Creator and His creation… between a Savior and those whom he has saved. Unfortunately, no Easy Button exists. Maturity in Christ is a slow, oftentimes painful process that requires the blazing hot fire of God’s refinery. 

Malachi 3:2-3 states, “But who can endure the day of His coming?  And who can stand when He appears?  For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap.  He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” 

God reminds us that our journeys, the paths we traverse from Calvary to the pearly gates are not just casual jaunts through flowery fields.  They are precipitous.  They are fraught with pitfalls and painful moments.  The enemy waits at each turn, critics erode our resolve and the world brings its full weight to bear as we daily labor towards the “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”Philippians 3:14.  But the joy we find is worth the struggle.  Epic storms and barren valleys diminish as we draw closer to Jesus, for He is our just reward.

Or, have we forgotten?

Have we allowed time to diminish the significance of the Cross delegating it to a wall decoration or an ornament on a necklace?

Have we taken for granted an Amazing Grace and a Savior bound to that Cross, not by nails… but sin?  My sin.  Yours.

Time and familiarity can breed complacency.  If we are not careful, the journey from joy-filled grateful hearts to “oh well, I never” attitudes of self-righteousness produce “but… slave” mentalities. 

Jesus tells Peter For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves… but since he (the slave) did not have the means to repay… the lord of that slave felt compassion… but that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves… and threw him in prison.Matthew 18:23-30.

The “but… slave” is the guy that has a cheap view of grace. 

The “but… slave” is the guy who marginalizes his own sin.

The “but… slave” is the guy who mocks Jesus and scorns forgiveness, even after it is offered.

The “but… slave” is the guy that is more afraid of hell than he is in love with Jesus.

The “but… slave” is the guy whose heart was never softened by the kindness of God and subsequently celebrates his new-found freedom while imprisoning his brother. 

A cheap, marginalized understanding of grace creates insurmountable obstacles to the cross.  And a pursuit of self-rightness sentences those who have wronged us to a punishment that we escaped – not because we were found worthy; but because God is full of mercy.

I wonder if we ever truly question God’s grace?  What makes it so amazing?  Why do we sing about it and weep over its implications? 

Is it because it is free to us?  Yes, but there is more.  If I am wronged, I can and do, offer grace that is free, but I would never consider it to be amazing.  Neither would you.

Is it because it cost God His son?  Absolutely.  Granted the sacrifice is beyond measure but human history records grace-filled heroic acts of personal sacrifice.

I believe that Grace… God’s grace is amazing because He did not have to give it.  Allow me to explain.  God is the only one who can judge.  God is the only one who can sentence someone to eternal separation and punishment.  In Jesus’s parable, The King had every moral right to condemn not just the first slave but all of them.  Yet He didn’t.  Love would not allow it.

And His act of Grace was not a sweeping under the rug act of indifference.  He did not look the other way as if the sin did not matter.  God did not capitulate to the reality of an unpayable debt, nor did He turn the other cheek as if His holiness was immaterial.  Holiness would not allow it.

He disarmed sin.  He defeated death, and in so doing, He equips us as His ambassadors to this world to go and do likewise.  Grace unmerited, mercy unending, love unconditional and holiness undeniable should be the hallmarks of the Christian life.  And when we are yielded to the Holy Spirit and obedient to Scripture those fruits we read about in Galatians ripen into more than just lofty religious ideals, they literally adorn our lives with godly attributes.  And our fruit-bearing walks enrich the lives of those we encounter. 

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”  Jesus.

Greg Garner resides in Dallas, Ga., with his wife of 21 years, Kari, and their 2 children, Kaden and Kenli. He has served on staff at West Ridge Church for over 7 years as the Director of Local Outreach, and now as the Director of Men’s Ministry. Originally from Texas, he loves college football and the Texas Longhorns, and eating Mexican food as often as possible. Greg has a deep love and passion for God’s Word and truly believes that full devotion to Christ happens best in authentic Biblical community.

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