How do you view your relationship to God? Do you see yourself as one of many prize ‘catches’ that God has rescued from the masses of rebellious humans to show the world how wonderful He is? Perhaps, like many of the misguided television “evangelists”, you see yourself as an example of how wonderful and (materially) prosperous God can make people if they just have enough faith and follow the prosperity formula. Or maybe you see yourself as one of God’s unique instruments to advance His kingdom by living and proclaiming His good news to a lost and dying world.
I suggest that no matter how you choose to articulate it, you see yourself in one of two ways. Either, like in the first two examples, as one of God’s trophies, or, as in the third example, as one of God’s tools.
Make no mistake, whether you view yourself as a Trophy, or a Tool will determine not only how you serve (or don’t serve) your Maker, Savior, and God but how you view and relate to other Christians as well.
“Trophy” Christians tend to have one or more of the following general attitudes toward God:
-) Jesus has chosen and saved me. I’ve got my fire insurance, and God is my friend so I can do whatever I want because God wants me to be happy.
-) Yep – I’m gonna be in Fat City now! After all, God wants me to PROSPER and the more wealth I can ‘name and claim’ the better!
-) I’ve chosen to follow Jesus, and now my job is to get as many more trophies for God as I can by whatever means or manipulation possible. The more ‘notches’ on my Bible for souls saved, the more God loves me!
Note that of those three general views, the last is the only one that has any remotely Scriptural basis. However, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) doesn’t command us to get people to recite ‘the sinner’s prayer’, go forward at a crusade, or any of those “once and done” declarations – we are told to make disciples. And, guess what? Discipleship doesn’t look anything like those views!
Well then, what does a disciple look like?
Before I answer that, I need to define what a disciple is: A disciple is a follower of a leader (teacher, mentor, boss, etc.) who studies that leader’s words, actions, and writings (if any) in order to emulate that leader as closely as possible.
Therefore, a disciple of Christ will do whatever he or she can to emulate Him (including His commands) – after all “Christian” literally means “little Christ”.
So, how do we do that?
There really isn’t any “step by step, 12 point manual” – we each image YHWH in unique ways, but there are some minimal practices and traits common to all disciples of Christ, in no particular order:
-) Prayer and meditation (specifically meditation on the Word).
Throughout the letters (epistles in church speak) we are instructed to pray, and consistent prayer is modeled in almost every chapter of Acts. Jesus himself said “When you pray”, not “If you pray”. If, as I do, you view prayer as talking to God and meditation upon Scripture as listening to God, what better way to learn how the one to whom you are discipled thinks and speaks than by listening and inquiring of Him?
Make no mistake every human being WILL worship something or someone, whether it is self, celebrity, sports, idol, Satan, or the Creator of the Universe. We are commanded to worship YHWH only, and we do that by acknowledging His rule, grace, and goodness, and by serving him rather than ANY other. (Ex. 20:1-6)
-) Bible reading and study.
Briefly, the Bible contains the inspired words of God; if we want to know and be like Him, we need to know and understand what He has said to the best of our ability. Think of it as your Commanding Officer’s mission instructions. (Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 2:15, Psalm 1:1-3)
-) Christian Fellowship.
There is a reason that Paul told the Corinthians to not neglect assembling together. Throughout Scripture, even in those rare occasions when God called an individual out to serve Him, He quickly either included that individual’s family or sent them to proclaim His Word and glory to a larger group of people. Contrary to the popular American “it’s just between me and Jesus” heresy, YHWH has ALWAYS called us to a corporate as well as personal faith and practice. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Commonly referred to in “Christianspeak” as “good works”, we as disciples of Christ are repeatedly throughout Scripture instructed to pray for and care for our fellow believers and then others who are in need. (Gal. 6:10, Heb. 10:24, James 2:14-20, John 15:8, Rom. 2:13)
That’s a quick summary of the minimal requirements to be an effective tool of God’s mercy and grace rather than a dusty, useless trophy on a shelf. I’ll elaborate on these minimum requirements in future articles, but for now, prayerfully and thoughtfully ask yourself, “am I a trophy, or a tool?”.