Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Discipleship and Rehabilitation

Having my knee replaced has resulted in a number of interesting insights on discipleship.

Wednesday my physical therapist had me in some kind of pre-tap-out-vice-grip-wrestling-hold when I decided it might help my cause if I diverted his attention. “How is therapy like Christian discipleship?” I asked through gritted teeth.

My intellectual ruse failed. He wrenched two more degrees out of my passive flexion and never missed a beat.

“The front door. If you want to get better it always begins there. You’ve got to show up and ask for help.” Then he pushed another degree, taking me to the upper threshold of my pain tolerance.

After Jesus called his twelve apostles, he baptized them. Then he began making them his disciples. First we are called, saved, converted. Second, we are baptized into the “family of God.” And that starts the life-long process of learning and following Jesus.

I agree with my physical therapist. Discipleship begins when we make a decision to become more Christ-like in the way we conduct ourselves. We find someone who can teach us how to think and feel and act as Christians.

After knee surgery I had to want someone to teach me to walk again. That’s a lot different than just finding someone who has also had a joint replaced and commiserating on what a miserably painful surgery it is.

There is a sense of immediacy in discipleship. “You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” (Heb 3:13) Every Christian should be helping other believers grow into spiritual maturity. At the same time every Christian should be seeking help from others in order to continue growing.

According to scripture, being a disciple involves a pattern of deliberate growth characterized by the following:

  1. We put Jesus first. (Mark 8:34-38) We learn to set aside our self-centeredness and adjust our lives so that we become Christ-centered instead. I can think of no sin that isn’t rooted in personal selfishness.

  2. Follow Jesus’ teachings. (John 8:31-32) We can’t follow what we don’t know. Guided study balanced with real-life application matures us into men and women who have experience finding and carrying out right actions in everyday life.

  3. Fruitfulness. (John 15:5-8) Our job isn’t to produce fruit; our job is to abide in Christ so that the Holy Spirit will produce fruit from our obedience. We change from the inside out, not by willing ourselves to change, but by learning to live God’s will for us.

  4. Love for other disciples. (John 13:34-35) Love is not an emotion; it is a decision backed up with action. And it is the most difficult things any of us are asked to do.

  5. Evangelism. (Matt 28:18-20) As we learn to live in the likeness of Jesus, we will draw others into a desire to know him also.  

The first ten years of my life as a Christian were ugly and painful. My behaviors changed very little. The only real difference was the shame and despair I experienced when I sinned. What was wrong with me? I was a post-op patient who didn’t know how to walk. Consequently I spent a decade stumbling, falling down, crawling around in agony, and questioning if I’d even had surgery. I desperately needed someone who could teach me how to walk like a disciple.

Today I am deeply grateful that God has brought teachers when I need them, and continues to do so as long as I knock on the front door and ask for help.