MAKING DISCIPLES: THE EARNESTNESS OF BEING
I want to convey a few thoughts on discipleship from a different perspective, which I call the EARNESTNESS OF BEING. This will sound odd to some, but as you hear what I say, I pray that the Spirit would unite us in understanding His heart on this thing.
THE DEBATE CONCERNING THE MAIN REASON FOR THE CHURCH’S EXISTENCE
If we go by the testimonies of people, and you can count me in on this one, historically most people who are saved and become part of the church, the living, breathing body of Christ, end up recruited for Christian service pretty quick. In fact it can be argued, that by calling forth people into their destiny in God is effectively recruiting them for Kingdom activity.
Please hear me on this one.
BEING MUST PRECEDE AND MUST SUSTAIN KINGDOM ACTIVITY
No one will argue that until a person is saved, all they are involved in is dead religious works. But why is it, that when a person is saved, the sustaining part of the relationship with God begins to go out of balance and leans very strongly on the side of the works of grace that are visibly seen by the church and the world at large. Why is it that service, Kingdom activity, and good works all of a sudden rise to prominence at the expense of deeper relationship and intimacy and body life?
THE ANALOGY OF THE SOLDIER
Some of you will laugh now. You will recall my comments on pacifism and the like and wonder where is Sam coming from here. Well, I can speak about this, for I was a combat soldier for eight years. I was an NCO and a platoon NCO in a combat infantry unity in the Canadian Forces. So, this is no lame theory. It is factual.
When I enlisted I was a civie of the street and all I knew of the army was from the movies and from speaking with veterans, like my grandfathers and other relatives and friends of our family. That was it. I knew about the army from others and from the messages sent out by the media and movies. But I did not know the army life personally and intimately. The same is true of the Christian life. I heard the message from my parents and from exposure to the main circles where that message was proclaimed, namely in traditional church circles, and I also saw it ridiculed and mocked in the public squared and those who had no interested in God or His Kingdom. Until I personally experienced God for myself, it was all theory, just like when I enlisted in the army. Until I enlisted I did not even know the “taste” or “flavour” of military life. Until I experienced Christ as my Saviour and Lord and “tasted salvation”, it was all theory to me.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONSHIP IN ESTABLISHING BEING, PURPOSE, UNITY AND MISSION
When it comes down to it, we need to grasp that our initiation into the Kingdom, our salvation experience is just that, the entry into the Kingdom. It is our being embraced by God into His family. We are made new in the Spirit, and we have left the past behind. We are no longer our own and we become part of a growing family that is being established by the Lord and is having its character transformed and renewed into the image of Jesus. In the army, we end up leaving our families of origin and we become adopted into another family, a fraternity of brothers which is a family with bonds even stronger than the family from which we came. The series, Band of Brothers, illustrated that very graphically. I related to that series in ways that stirred memories going back to basic training when I was 17. I was amazed at what was stirred.
I realized then, as I do now, that enlisting is one thing. It is like being born again. It is the entry point. But when you live, eat, sweat, prepare to die for your mate, as he does for you, you realize how close you become. You realize that you are putting it all on the line for each other. You realize that you have people who will stand with you and who will die for you and who won’t let anyone tear you down, or anyone take advantage of you. When that happens to you, it is as if it happens to them. Unity grows as the bonds of brotherhood grow. Unity and agreement become accepted as normative and part of our identity in who we are. We know we are family and we have a destiny and purpose. We not only live together experience life together, but we train together for an intended purpose and destiny. That is not much different than our life together in the church. We are all different and from different places, but we are grafted in together and become family in the Spirit. We become one in unity of life in the Son and in His purpose and destiny we find out our own. We find that we were not created to be alone but to be in unity not only with God but with others just like ourselves. That is the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the church militant.
NURTURING AND EQUIPPING HAPPEN IN RELATIONSHIP
Just as in real families, there is nurturing that takes place in the army and in that nurturing identity is fostered and loyalty and brotherhood. We find our meaning in who we are collectively, and understand that our individuality is part of this collective expression. We are inter dependent, and that means we need each other and we cannot function apart from each other. Families are comprised of many individuals, and as such the individuals come together for the common good of all. In the military unit it is the same. In that invironment, there is a lot of nurturing and affirming that goes on and that prepares the soldier for a life of sacrifice to higher ideals than himself.
The Christian life is the same. We are nurtured and loved by the Lord and those whom He brings into our lives. As we relate together we get a sense of our BEING, of who we are in Him and who we are in His Kingdom. We realize we have a destiny in Him and there is a greater purpose for our lives. But that purpose flows out of our being.
A SOLDIER MUST “BE” BEFORE HE “IS” A SOLDIER
Like families, soliers learn what it is to be a “brother in arms” to other brothers through deep relationship with others who know they may have to lay down their lives for each other. They know that soldiers must first become soldiers, and that infers moving from our initial initiation as recruits to fully trained combat specialists. There are different rites of passage, which is much like our life of sanctification, in which we progress through various phases of maturity and growth and development in which the Lord equips us for every good work. Likewise in the army. Each soldier discovers his role and function, and begins to understand his BEING, as a soldier, means that he will know the basics of soldiering, the basics of a soldier’s life, but that will change and develop and grow when he knows his purpose and being and what he is being prepared to become.
I was trained to be a reconnaisance expert. My first years in the infantry were in scouting and patrols and gathering intelligence. This was my role and function within my “military family”. We were all soldiers, but we each had within that identity an intented purpose for which we had to be trained and equipped. As I matured and grew in my role and function, I also achieved rank and learned new aspects of soldiering. I became a specialist in heavy weapons and in communications as well as a marksman, which eventually led to sniping.
In the Chritian life, we mature and grow and as we grow the Lord places us in places of influence and ministry. But all this is from the state of our BEING, the state of our relationship. No matter where I was in the military, I was always a soldier. That was my identity and everything I ended up doing flowed out of that state of being. Likewise for us s Christians. What we do, must flow from and be sustained from who we are in Christ Jesus, or we will fail miserably and be dependent upon the works of the flesh.
LET US NOT SUBSTITUTE THE TASKS AND FORSAKE OUR RELATIONSHIPS!
You know in the Christian life and the Christian world it is always easy to get people together for a task. As soon as they are called together for the work of the Kingdom, some feel manipulated or forced by guilt or conscience to be partakers. You know, “What will people think if I don’t support this ministry!” Out of reluctance we end up participating in things and sure it gets done and everyone feels good, but by and large, as soon as that task is over, so is the relationship! There is no greater evidence to this than the approach in ministerials in cities that do city outreaches and crusades. Everybody pitches in for the sake of the Kingdom. Monies are raised, volunteers trained, and time given for the event and at the end of the day, the relationships do not deepen until the next event. I don’t know about you, but that “sucks!” You could never run a military campaign that way. It would not work.
We need to embrace our indenty in Christ, and we need to seek the Lord as to our place in His Kingdom, and we need to let His image be formed in us. We need to grasp our sense of BEING of who we are. When we do that and embrace our relationship and understand each of us has the same relationship in the Son, then we will begin to become the family of God that is sustained by God, and then equipped by God, and then sent forth by God. We will not identify ourselves by our gifts and tasks, but by who we are in the Son. I quite frankly do not care how apostolic you are, or prophetic. I care about who you are, and not what you do for me or the Kingdom. You are my brother. You are my sister. I am your brother. Let us come together in the bond of love, and let us grasp that sense of BEING “sons of God” together. As we relate together, the Lord will then live out His life and calling through us, and our destinies will unfold before us. We will then walk out what has been worked out in us by the Spirit.
In house church, we need to get to the basics of relationships and our sense of being in who we are in Christ, and that life needs to be lived and experienced. As the Lord gives us His vision and the tasks to be accomplished, He will impart what we need to accomplish that task. That is the way of Christ. We are know by who we are and not by what we do. We are Christ’s, and that is why we are Christians.
O Lord, let simplicity return to Your church, and let us not forget You have called us out of darkness for relationship, to be Your family.