Has anyone ever “discipled” you? Have you been in a discipling relationship with a more mature Christian, who guided you in a process of growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ? What is Christian spirituality? How do you grow as a believer in Christ? Discipleship is not simply a programme. Christian discipleship is life transformation directed toward the whole person. That life begins in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, with the goal of becoming like Jesus as we walk with him in today’s world.
To be a follower of Jesus literally means to “imitate” or to be like him (Matt 10:24-25). The transformation process begins with a change in personal identity, whereby one adopts the teachings, lifestyle, and values of Jesus. The spiritual relationship between believers and Jesus is unique in that he or she is committed to and rooted in Christ (Jn 15:1-8; 17:13-26). Such a bond looks forward to the kind of “likeness” that Paul talks about, where the ultimate goal of the believer’s life is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). This talk will identify the key stages of Christian growth and the key marks of discipleship.
Christian growth is a multi-dimensional endeavour which addresses the whole person. This talk focuses on the spiritual life or the spiritual disciplines as a key to spiritual growth. As a foundation for growth as a disciple, Jesus emphasised that a person must be born again by the Spirit of God (Jn 3:1-15). In other words, growth is dependent upon internal regeneration through the Spirit. This stands in contrast to the teachings of the Pharisees, who focused on external appearances (Matt 23:25-28). Jesus emphasised that the heart is the source of what we are on the outside (Matt 12:33-37). Hence, change needs to occur from the inside-out. This talk addresses key themes, including self-denial, cross-bearing, and costly life-long discipleship.
Jesus’ teachings created the basis for an ethic that would sustain the disciples during his earthly ministry as well as beyond it. This talk focuses on Jesus’ teachings that form the heart of the disciple’s ethical life. First, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount describes the ideals and goals of Christian living (Matt 5:21-47). Second, Jesus examines one’s thought, motive, just as important as actions (Matt 5:21-30). Since the new life begins with a work of the Spirit in the heart, one’s righteousness reflects the depths of the human heart. Thirdly, love is the central theme of the disciple’s life, which include loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute him or her (Matt 5:43-45).
Jesus’ form of discipleship included a complex balance of individuality and community. Yet the concept of community is everywhere apparent, whether it is the solidarity of the Twelve, the spiritual family emphasis (Matt 12:46-50), the promise of the church (Matt 16:18; 18:17) , or the relational responsibilities within the community (Matt 18). This talk focuses on the suggestion that Jesus’ treatment of the family is a key to understanding his form of discipleship. From the OT to the NT, the earthly family plays a major role in God’s plan for humanity. The family was established by God, it was protected by the Law, and it was an illustration of God’s relationship with his people. The family was the means through which succeeding generations of individuals were assured of being raised to know the will of God and importance of community life.