I have been thinking about discipleship the last few days. I seems to me that even this issue is not immune to the problems of consumerism within the church that we might read about in a Eugene Peterson book (it is one of his biggest pet peeves).
What I have been thinking about is just the overall nature of discipleship and what it means for the Christian life.
Speaking of Eugene Peterson, if I may borrow a title from one of his books, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society…
(I haven’t read the book but the title seems pretty self evident)
…even though this book was written in 1989, over 20 years ago…
(Dear Pastor, do you think you might be willing to look it over and consider revising it or bringing new insight?)
…I think we are still neck deep in the miry clay of attempting to create disciples almost overnight, in an instant.
If that isn’t the problem, I have been noticing lately all the (f)ads pushing the latest in discipleship material that can best be used to disciple people and congregations, as if there was some formula, some “get-discipled-quick scheme.” Now, I don’t want to knock these materials too hard as I know Christians and congregations, can use all sorts of differing things to aid in their spiritual growth and maturity in the Lord and in the faith. But I sm slightly concerned that they often encourage wrong thinking about what it means to be in discipleship to Jesus and the dynamics involved.
I can’t pretend to know all the answers but I think I do know that discipleship can’t be done quickly (and maybe no one is even saying this). It takes time. A long time. A whole life long time. Discipleship to Jesus is something that when we begin, it never ends. We will always be learning and growing and maturing in the Lord, even into eternity. Just as it takes a long time to grow up and become adults (sadly, some never become adults), it takes a long time to grow in our maturity and discipleship to Jesus.
But I think to what I wanted to share is that discipleship isn’t just found in study or devotional material. It is also, if not more so, found in the life long everyday living of our lives both as individuals and in community. Discipleship can happen at picnics or at the dinner table. It can happen on the back porch or patio, down at the lake or at the local coffee shop or when out fishing alone or with friends or the kids, just living life. Discipleship is best done in the living out our lives each day with one another in the every-day-ness of life, good or bad, better or worse, up or down, forwards, backwards and on and on. It can be in being neighbors, fellow church members, co-workers, friends. It is done in living life together, over the long haul. Over the long years of our lives we become better disciples (at least we should). It does take some work, some effort on our part, but it doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over life.