On Holistic Discipleship

sOne of the things that destroys true discipleship is a narrow perspective–one that believes being a Christian just means showing up to church now and then and possibly saying a prayer before you eat. If we are going to fulfill the biblical mandate of Jesus to make disciples we need to pursue a holistic perspective. What does that mean?

Holistic discipleship is concerned with every moment of every day.

Psalm 139 beautifully explains that God is with us in every moment. He is no more present with us when we are reading our Bible than when we are at a movie. We may be more present with Him in some moments than we are in others, but that doesn’t mean His level of interest changes. God wants to uniquely conform every part of our lives to Jesus.

In Colossians 3:17, Paul says whatever we do we should do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. In other words, your job, family, recreation, friendships, and rest all matter equally in regard to discipleship. But this isn’t necessarily the way we approach life..

It’s easy to assume that God cares about the “spiritual” parts of our lives and other than that He’s disinterested (except to keep watch to make sure we don’t sin). Do we really believe God cares about our jobs, our parenting, our recreation, and our rest? Often we don’t, but God has created us for all of these things. You were made to work. You were made to enter into relationships. God commands us to rest because he knows we need it.

This means playing with your kids is worship. Laying down and taking a nap is worship. Working hard at your job and doing it well is worship. These things are not necessarily worship, but when we approach them as things we do to the best of our ability, in line with how we are made, they can become that.

Holistic discipleship is about all of who you are.

In American Christianity we have a tendency to look at the leaders and assume that spiritual maturity is not only the godliness they hopefully reflect but also the personality they have. Introverts can assume godliness must mean being able to get up and talk in front of people. I once had a man tell me he hoped he would be spiritually mature enough to preach a sermon someday. I asked if he wanted to do that and he told me he didn’t but he believed that’s what spiritually mature people do. Through further discussion he is now ministering to people through presence and prayer both in his job delivering flowers and as a greeter on Sundays.

Our personalities and preferences are God-given. Being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t erase or change these, it just shapes them to be more like Jesus. Paul says our effectiveness is tied to our diversity (Romans 12). We lose effectiveness as disciples of Jesus and communities of faith when we do anything to rid ourselves of our God-given diversity.

Discipleship is the unique conformity of all you do and all you are to Jesus.

If you want to hear more on this topic you can go to this pageand click on the sermon entitled “The Part of Your Life God Doesn’t Care About”.

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About Trevor Lee

Proud to be the husband of a wonderful wife and the father of two great kids. I love to hang out with them, hang out with others, read, lis

Posted on January 24, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great post, Trevor. I liked the story of the introvert, because that’s me and having Aspergers to boot, it makes it hard (but not impossible) to talk to folks. But more often than not, people have told me I have a ministry of presence, even if I don’t say a word.

    God can use us, but it doesn’t have to be a one-size fits all approach.

  2. Reading this, I thought of your teaching on Sunday — and was not surprised to find it referenced at the end of the message. Discipleship is, indeed, a special thing. To be truly all it should be, it must be a way of life. Indeed, it must be life itself. For those living in a fractured culture like ours, this is a hard thing. Who can think of WWJD when one is driving (road rage is almost a way of life for those who spend more time behind the wheel than almost anywhere else). Relationships — well just what do you do with friends and coworkers who are not in hetrosexual relationships, and how do you deal with the fact that you just can’t dislike them or find any fault with what they do (really, I just do not see anything wrong with alternative sexual styles). Divorce, abortion, drugs — you name it, it is part of the American Way these days. And there is nothing “wrong” with any of it, according to the current and flucuating cultural “norms.” Of course, most of this is antithetical to Jesus-oriented discipleship. These often makes Christians “misfits.” Yet, we must try to get along with all others. How hard can it be to be in the world but not of the world? Almost impossible.

    We are what we are — unless Jesus changes us. Seldom can we change ourselves (let alone try to change others). We often start to want for others what we have found for ourselves. But those “others” may have no desire to have what we have found. I often wonder if this is why prayers sometimes seems so ineffective? We cannot change others to be like us; we no longer want to be like others. Sounds like a recipie for disaster. And, often, it is. No wonder The World hates us — and, then, through in the all too human elements of failing to live up to our own standards. Hypocricy — cries the world. Failure — cries the Christian.

    And, now comes the idea of “unique conformity.” Being one of Jesus’ own and being our own self — at the same time. This is enough to “stress out” one who is trying to be a Christian (guess who has this problem) and seldom succeeds. I get the unique part; it’s the conformity part that can be confusing. When to conform; when to be unique. It is a puzzle.

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