Discipleship a Lifelong Process of Learning: Friendship with Jesus Requires Nurturing

By Percy, Harold | Anglican Journal, October 1998 | Go to article overview

Discipleship a Lifelong Process of Learning: Friendship with Jesus Requires Nurturing


Percy, Harold, Anglican Journal


IN THE GOSPELS the first followers of Jesus are called disciples. At the close of his earthly ministry, Jesus instructed these disciples (and through them the church) to "go and make disciples of all nations," (Matthew 28: 19). In a culture such as ours, in which the word Christian has become somewhat ambiguous, disciple is still a good word to describe those who give their primary allegiance to Jesus and who make it the goal of their life to live to the glory of God.

The process whereby disciples learn to live this new life is called discipleship. It is this lifelong process of learning to follow Jesus ever more faithfully, with deeper insight, clearer understanding, and a broader range of application that constitutes the real adventure of the Christian life.

Churches that want to be strong and healthy must make it their priority to help their people become strong and healthy disciples. Without this, nothing of lasting significance can be accomplished. In seeking to grow as disciples, and in helping others to grow, there are four key areas on which we should focus.

The first area has to do with information. Growing disciples work constantly to understand the faith more clearly. The basic data of the Christian faith is the story of God and the world which unfolds in the Scriptures. This story reaches its climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent interpretation of that event in the rest of the New Testament. We need to know only the sketchiest details of this story in order to enter into a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

But to become mature disciples we will need to engage this story more deeply, and get to know the God who is behind it. In doing so we will learn a new way of seeing the world, a new way of thinking. We will gain rich insights into what God is doing and how we can live lives that are pleasing to him. We do not learn this story in one sitting. Disciples are people whose lives are being formed by constant, lifelong engagement with this story.

The second area deals with our personal relationship with the God behind this story whom we have come to know in Jesus Christ. Perhaps our first encounters with Christ were tentative, even fearful. …

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