Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Discipleship - What is it, really?

You may be familiar with the story of the demoniac of Gadara. The incident is found in Luke 8:26-39, and among other things, has an interesting insight that may challenge your idea of what discipleship really is.

Here’s the story: Jesus arrives at Gadara and encounters a demon possessed man. He has a legion of demons in him (about six thousand). Jesus casts the demons out and they go into a herd of pigs. The pigs freak out and run off a cliff drowning themselves in the sea. The demon possessed man is now clothed, in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Eventually the time comes for Jesus to leave the place and continue in His travels. The once demon possessed man asks to follow Jesus and be allowed to go with Him. Yet Jesus REFUSES! Instead, He tells the man to return home and TELL EVERYONE what GOOD THINGS GOD HAS DONE for him. And then, “Jesus went His way….” (v.39).

WHAT? What about DISCIPLESHIP? What about Bible study? What about Sunday School? What about attending a new-believers class? I mean, who does Jesus think He is? He cleanses this guy and doesn't even take him through a detox program or a course on discipleship? What was Jesus thinking?

Maybe this was one of JESUS’ METHODS to produce MATURITY and DISCIPLESHIP.

I think our views on discipleship (and what it really is) are often shaped BY our OWN NOTIONS, rather than being shaped by the actions of Christ Himself. For instance, those people who are always harping about discipleship are often the very ones who marginalize the Sunday service, express opinions about how shallow the church is, and imply they have the answer. When they say, “We need more discipleship” what they really mean is – “I WANT YOU TO THINK LIKE ME.”

If anyone was an authority on the subject of discipleship, Jesus was. And HE told this man to GO HOME and BE A WITNESS! Therefore, a major part of TRUE DISCIPLESHIP is to be actually INVOLVED in a ministry, WITNESSING, and TELLING OTHERS what God has done in your life – all in the power of the new birth.

We Christians believe it’s all about the classroom. Not so. Discipleship is not only about information – but rather application. All this man knew was – he used to be demon possessed and now he was free! And Jesus, for some reason, thought this WAS ENOUGH to send him out and do his part in the Great Commission.

The truth is it takes a VARIETY of EXPERIENCES to produce spiritual maturity. Maturity includes having a heart that worships God, building healthy relationships with other people, using your gifts & talents in service to other people, and sharing your faith with lost people.

MORE INFORMATION does NOT equal MORE MATURITY. And you can take that to the bank! We already have enough over-informed believers who are under-activated.

I would argue that Jesus discipled this guy by telling him to “GO.”