I subscribe to a website that shows you when e-books get discounted. One day, one of the books on sale was related to discipleship and being able to increase the depth of discipleship in a short amount of time. While on the surface this does not appear to be a problem. I found that the more I thought about it, the less I liked what it was saying about the discipleship process.
What do I mean? It makes me uncomfortable to think people are trying to short-circuit the discipleship process in their lives.
The reason for this is there is no shortcut to a deeper level of discipleship. There is no quick way of growing in intimacy with God. And to think that there is we put ourselves on a path toward self-deception. A path that leads to spiritual harm and weakness. Discipleship is a journey. It is a journey that takes time and endurance in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
This raises an interesting question: What is the ultimate goal of discipleship?
I believe the ultimate goal of discipleship is a deep and abiding relationship with God. That’s it. That’s the whole of it.
That relationship with God cannot be achieved by taking shortcuts. Now, I know that the book and other books like it are not trying to necessarily give the reader the impression it is possible to have a deep relationship with God in a short amount of time. However, that was the effect it had on me. And I have been maturing in my understanding of discipleship for over 20 years.
The fact that we struggle in our discipleship journey does not mean there is not some redemptive purpose in it. None of us likes to struggle. None of us likes to think there is a measure of suffering we all must endure. But life does not always come wrapped in a tight little bow.
Sometimes life is messy. In other times it can be downright vicious. But in spite of whatever comes at us in this life, we will do all we can to look towards what God has promised and not merely what we hope for him to fulfill at our request.
In my own life discipleship has often been costly. The reason for the cost of true and lasting discipleship is it requires us to sacrifice something we would normally never consider we could sacrifice. And what is that? We are called to sacrifice our very lives.
The reason for the cost of true and lasting discipleship is it requires us to sacrifice something we would normally never consider we could sacrifice.Tweet
This is the very thing Jesus does in his own example to us. Jesus enters into the world and he lives a life among people who do not understand who he truly is. He lives among people who only see someone who can bring them out of their own suffering and into what they believe is a life of abundance. But not the spiritual kind of abundance God desires to give. But the kind of abundance that says we are supposed to be rich in the world’s treasures. But Jesus says he has come to give us life and that life to the fullest.
I think what troubled me the most about books that promise to give us special insights and a quicker route to a deeper relationship with God is it offers something that not even God has promised to us. God calls us into a deeper relationship with him through his son Jesus Christ and invites us to live all eternity with him. Too often we find this invitation to be too far off. And so what we do, we look for ways to help God give us what we desire. But it’s not something we desire according to God’s purposes. It is what we desire according to our own.
I think one of the great challenges of the Christian faith is trusting in God’s timing. Learning to rely upon God to bring us to those moments and places he has determined are for our greatest good.
And so we need to learn to be patient. We need to learn to be more trusting. We need to learn to be more content with what God is giving us rather than looking for a “get holy quick scheme.”