The Pace of Discipleship
In our series walking through 1 John this summer, we have heard John tell us that our behavior matters. Why? Because what we believe in our hearts should correspond to how we live. Here’s how John said it,
6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
In other words, if we claim to be in Jesus, there should be evidence of Jesus-like characteristics in our lives. And, that is exactly what discipleship is, becoming more like Jesus in life-defining ways. So, what is the pace of discipleship?
When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we see that he poured into 12-disciples more than anyone else for around a three-year period. But, even of those 12, only four were really around for the entire three years James, John, Peter, and Andrew. Even those four didn’t follow Jesus on day one. In Mark’s Gospel, we read about the moment they did follow Jesus.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Between 1:15 and 1:16, eight months had passed. In that time, Jesus was building a relationship with these four young men on the sea of Galilee. The moment Jesus invites them to follow him is not the first time they have met him. They know him, talked with him, and trust him. Yes, their faith is significant, but it took time. As we then walk through the Gospels, we see that over a period of 3 years, Jesus pours into these guys, and even after the resurrection, they aren’t quite sure. Don’t forget the women had to come to get them to tell them that Jesus was risen!
Here is the important truth for you and me. Discipleship takes time… becoming more like Jesus and less like ourselves is an active process. Don’t skip over that word, process. So, in our disciple-making relationships and in our personal discipleship, we know that our character is being formed over time. Be encouraged; you are no different than the four guys who followed Jesus for the three years of his earthly ministry. Keep going and celebrate the ways that you have grown this week, month, and year. Give God praise for sticking by you and with you. Ask him for the courage to keep striving in obedience. Because obedience is God’s love language, and obedience takes courage.