November 12

Discipleship, Part 3

John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Romans 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

When we think of discipleship, most of us think of it as deeply personal and individual. It’s true that discipleship involves deeply personal matters, and it’s true that true discipleship is a profound individual experience. It’s also true that a great deal of the process of discipleship takes place in community.

The experience of discipleship involves the deepest and most intimate of issues, and we need to take personal responsibility for the things that only we can do. Only we can read His word for ourselves, only we can obey His commands to us, only we can pray those prayers that have been put on our hearts to pray. Only we can receive the conviction and corrections that He sends to us.

Yet there are things that we can only do together. We can only worship corporately with others. We can only hear (and receive) the preached word together in a group—a whole different dynamic than hearing it individually. We can learn to love others in a way that shows the world that we are His disciples (John 13:35) only when other people are around to love. We can only learn to minister to others when there are others present to minister to (see I Corinthians 12-14).

Spiritual pride and isolation is a constant demonic threat to the true disciple, and an easy trap to fall into. We can feel that others aren’t trying as hard to grow in Christ, or we believe the lie that the intense spiritual journey we are on is ours alone (much as young teens who believe that no one has ever been in love like they have). We must take it greatly to heart what the author of Hebrews says in 10:24-25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Being a disciple of Christ means getting in there in the lives of others—serving them, ministering to them, experiencing life with them, experiencing God with them, and yes, loving them when they make it difficult. Withdrawal from the lives of others is one of the enemy’s biggest tactics to the growing disciple. It’s tempting, it can feel spiritual, and it can feel as if it makes life simpler. It’s also a significant defeat from which it can be difficult to recover. Stay connected. It’s part of growing in Christ.

Prayer: Father, help me to live properly in community. Help me to develop my relationship with You personally as I live out my faith in the context of others. Thank You for the grace to minister to Your body, and to receive from Your body as well.

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