In the past Christianity has focused on “spiritual disciplines” to help us understand what disciples should be doing. These things include study, pray, meditation, service, fasting, fellowship, and worship. Let me be absolutely clear in this: when these disciplines are done they can play a major role in connecting us to God. The problem is that being a follower of Christ is about doing these things. All these disciplines can be done (at least faked) by people who had no faith in Jesus. When it comes to following Jesus there is one thing that is essential and that will breathe life into all the other disciplines as well, and that is faith.
Faith is not just about belief. Belief is the foundation of faith, but if all we have is faith then all we have is a stone foundation without a house. Faith must grow into trust, commitment, and action. Trust means that we will trust Jesus even though His way may not make sense to us. Commitment means that we will remain loyal no matter what happens to us. Action means that we will be obedient to what Jesus tells us to do. Only when we have faith do the spiritual disciplines of Christianity come alive and help us mature as Christians.
Jesus told the large crowds that followed Him that it was hard to be His disciple:
25 Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus. He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as his own life, he can't be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn't carry his cross and follow me can't be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27; ISV)
Jesus tells us here what is needed to grow belief into faith. We need to have love. Jesus says that unless we love Him above everything else in our lives we will not be able to follow Him. We may be able to go through the motions and look like we are His followers, but we won’t be the fully devoted people He demands us to be. When we are not fully devoted we will follow Him when it is convenient, but do our own thing when follow Jesus becomes to difficult.
Know that love will motivate us to behave in a certain way and will lead us to do certain things, yet it is not the outward behavior that makes us disciples, it is the love we have chosen which sets us apart as followers of Jesus. Discipleship for the Christian is about love expressing itself in faith.
If something seems to be missing in your life take an inventory of your life. What do you love the most? Are you following Jesus out of faith? I think those are two very important questions we need to consider as we seek to grow as Christians. Being a Christian is about doing the right things, but it is about living a life of love and faith.
- Point to Ponder: Discipleship for the Christian is about love expressing itself in faith.
- Passage to Remember: Luke 14:25-27
- Question to Consider: Are you following Jesus out of love and faith?