For the last several years the idea and practice of discipleship have become a life-changing passion. I have thought about it, written about it, and become more intentional about practicing it. The remarkable effect of becoming focused on any subject, you quickly learn how little you know about what you are studying. That was the case for me. Even with all I have learned, I know that I can refine my application of all that insight.
Today I would like to share what I believe is the most important lesson I have learned in my investigation of discipleship. As I have been discipled and have done discipleship I have realized that what makes discipleship work is the friendship that is created in the process. This is exactly what Jesus tells us at the end of his ministry on earth.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
There are two points to focus on. The first is that Jesus intentionally identifies the disciples as friends. After three years of travel and ministry, Jesus did not see them as servants. They had become friends. The shared experiences of life had forged a bond among them all. We do not know all of the details because the Bible does not tell us, but we do know how Jesus felt about the relationship.
The second point of focus is that Jesus shared everything God had sent him to share with them. This means that sharing is an important aspect of discipleship. But the purpose of sharing is not merely to inform, it is to help that person be transformed. If all you do in a discipleship relationship is get more information, be careful that transformation is sacrificed in the process. Information is a poor substitute for a transformed life. And too often we accept it when we should be looking for a lasting change. But, we all know how difficult changing is!
As we move closer and closer to Lent I would ask you to consider your own discipleship. Are you being discipled in a way that leads to transformation? Or are you getting fat on new information? Chose the kind of discipleship that does the first! You will never regret it and you will never be able to deny it.