Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Rigors of Discipleship

We don’t hear much about spiritual growth these days. Many believers look for instant solutions or dramatic experiences to unlock the key for them. But real, lasting victory does not come through those means. God’s design is that we be seasoned to maturity through a continual process of growth.

Multitudes of professing believers suffer from arrested development. Churches are filled with those who are spiritually immature, undiscerning, weak, and fragile. Thousands – perhaps more – are addicted to “therapy,” evidently preferring the dependency of a counseling relationship to the rigors of discipleship and growth in grace.

Have you ever noticed a seasoned, mature believer? You've seen them. These are the people who live victorious lives, have overcome the wicked one, and have their act together! Their life is healthy, well-balanced, and well-adjusted. All without some psycho-babble mish-mash to help them cope. This is the kind of life that God wants all His children to live. It is the promise of the overcomer.

God intends that every Christian grow into spiritual maturity. His Word commands us, “Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That is our obligation – and it is also our privilege.

God’s answer to anything and everything you face is found in the person Jesus Christ and in our seasoned development. What the gospel offers us is God’s own presence and power to enable us to live the kind of life that is consistent with His Word. The boundless blessings of spiritual growth are like a divine vault that is easily unlocked through the disciplines of spiritual growth.

Christ of eternity is in the business of healing past hurts, rebuilding broken lives, freeing us from hopeless addictions, liberating us from our old nature, and giving us Himself in its place! Yet many have short-changed themselves by exchanging this life-giving gospel for psychological pottage.

The rigors of discipleship involve disciplines…. not being coddled.

We have nothing new under the sun. We have no problems in this century that millions before us in thousands of years past have not suffered and been delivered from by God. Modern psychology, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology (i.e., drug induced changes in mood) and all that goes with it have only been around for a little more than 100 years. If Jesus Christ cannot make good on His offer without the aid of treatments which have not been known until this century, then He lied to the people of His day and has cruelly deceived nearly 2000 years of desperate followers.

Nothing we have learned in the past 100 years of applied psychology can add one iota of insight to the Bible or one pinch of power to God who is in the business of making new creatures out of ruined lives!

The power of God and the rigors of discipleship still work.