We live in a culture that is becoming increasingly individualized. Despite the rise of social media, we are more isolated than ever. And many like it that way. We like our independence. We like the freedom. And we like the lack of accountability.
But as Christians we aren't called to isolation, but rather we are called to a family. To the Church. As I saw many Sundays at LHF, as much as we love calling God Father, that means we must also call fellow Christians brother and sister.
But what does that look like? What does it look like to be in relationships with fellow Christians? What all does that involve?
Mark Dever gives us one example in his book "Discipling". This is part of 9Marks series "Building Healthy Churches." Which is an excellent series and I would highly recommend each book in this series (currently there are 12).
Discipling is a word that can be a little scary. It sounds intimidating and series. But Dever removes some of the fear and complexity by defining it simply as "helping others follow Jesus". If we believe that being a disciple is someone who follows Jesus, than to disciple someone is simply helping them to do that. And, Dever argues, that is one of the main responsibilities of the church - and more specifically, the main responsibility of a Christian.
In the introduction Mark Dever writes:
"To be a Christian means to be a disciple. There are not Christians who are not disciples. And to be a disciple of Jesus means to follow Jesus. There are no disciples who are not following Jesus...But the Christian life is also the discipling life. Disciples disciple. We follow the one who calls people to follow by calling people to follow." (pp 15-16)
Now that might seem like I typed too many phrases there. But I didn't. Jesus called us to follow his example of calling people to follow him. Jesus calls men and women to be disciples, who then call others to be his disciples. And just as he discipled them, they then follow his example and disciple others. Christians are to be disciple making disciples.
Now that seems like hard work. And it sometimes is. It does take sacrifice, it does take time, it does take vulnerability. But the task itself does not need to be complicated. It is as simple as meeting together to pray. Meeting together to study the Bible together. Going out for lunch on a Sunday afternoon to discuss the morning sermon. It could involve a couple with kids inviting newly weds over for the evening to show how the Christian life is lived out - even when it puts on display your weaknesses as your child throws food all over the floor. Discipling is simply life on life ministry. A maturing Christian coming alongside a less mature Christian and helping them follow Jesus.
One thing I have been convinced of over the years is that discipling is a lost art in the Church, and we are feeling it's effects. In all of our busyness and in all of our isolation, we have lost the call to follow Jesus together. And we desperately need to regain it.
Mark Dever's book, Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, is a needed message for the church today. Get this book. Read it. And put it into practice.
You can find Discipling, as well as other books by 9Marks at their website: www.9marks.org