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Discipleship basics: Three things Jesus did that we don’t

We think it’s just Bible study and prayer, but it’s so much more. Jesus did a few basic things with his disciples that we don’t do – things so fundamental they’re like blocking and tackling. Too many of us modern disciples get caught up running dipsy-doodle plays when we haven’t gone thru th…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

We think it’s just Bible study and prayer, but it’s so
much more. Jesus did a few basic things with his disciples that we don’t do –
things so fundamental they’re like blocking and tackling. Too many of us
modern disciples get caught up running dipsy-doodle plays when we haven’t gone
thru the basics of training camp.

Here they are:

1. He required
and taught

is necessary to acquire spiritual eyes and become more fully dependent on God
and eventually enter into a walk of consecration resulting in a

Jesus himself went into the desert and he sends so many
of us there. Paul went to Arabia before he ever got sideswiped by the Spirit
and sent to Macedonia. It’s in the desert of
abandonment that we get stripped of all preconceptions and bad habits and get
remade in God’s image.

If you haven’t been to some metaphorical desert where
Jesus has invited you to leave your old affections and habits behind, you’ve
missed a foundation stone in your discipleship.

You must be stripped before you can be clothed.

2. He practiced
– Jesus limited himself to a few
one-to-one relationships. He invested in a few people and gave
them an understanding of who the Father is with skin on. People need to
experience love to know God. As someone invests in us, we have our identities
remade. We see ourselves reflected in the Father’s image thru a relationship
with someone who is already more or less “walking in oneness with the Father.”
We’re like Conrad Lorenz’s goslings – we imprint. We see and follow someone
(almost anyone really) who takes the time to nurture us.

There is ananthropomorphic tendency in humans that
seems to be hard-wired into us. Why else do 800+ people follow a wacko like Jim
Jones down to Guyana? They thought they saw
something of the Father in him. Jesus said, “You’ve seen the Father; you’ve
seen me.” I don’t think he was just talking about his divine nature. I think
he was talking about this mystery that we are made in God’s image and somehow
reflect the divine, like the moon reflects the sun. It boggles my mind how that
works. I’m still learning about this – I really think there’s a lot I still
don’t understand about it.

He imparted
spiritual authority.

You need spiritual authority
in order to exercise the power to do what the disciples did in Luke 9 and 10 (see the article Sons of Sceva: Wielding true spiritual authority for more on this).
You get to “do the stuff.” Having seen the Father (that is, seen him with the
eyes of your heart), you have confidence in his authority and become confident
as his representative in this dark world. You are equipped go up against demons
that want to kill you.

You appropriate his power to
address the issues of injustice and begin to tap his deep wells of compassion
for those who are in despair, healing them and setting them free. This begins
with ministry to the poor in spirit – those looking for hope. And it is these
very poor who themselves in time eventually infiltrate leadership of all
institutions in a society. Jesus is patient – his revolution can sweep a nation
like Mozambique in a few years, or he can
wait a generation or two until someone is hungry enough to discover this secret
of spiritual authority.

So here’s how the process works: When you’ve returned
from your desert of abandonment, You’re imprinted with the Father’s light
reflected in someone else. You begin to get comfortable in your new skin. Why?
Because someone who looks like Jesus has invested in you, it’s time to start
reaching out to others with the hope of the coming kingdom. And you do this in
partnership with the Spirit using the authority he’s given

Jesus did all three of these
things and we don’t. Add to this his investment of 15,000 hours over three years in a few people,
and you’ve got a model that we moderns rarely replicate. But, like
archaeologists, we can still excavate and recover his original model.
It’s all quite marvelous.

See the “How to Disciple” topic on my blog for more on this topic.

Comments (11)

  • This is the diffrence between making disciplies of Jesus in contrast to Pharisees. If Christians only learn to follow rules, take certain steps and gain more knowledge they become what Jesus so strongly opposed. Bible reading is certainly important for the transforming of our minds, but alone the knowledge mainly leads to pride. A disciplined life is good but one that comes from human effort as opposed to a fruit of the Holy Spirtit leads to more pride. Way too often, church programs on disciplship leave out or gloss over these 3 essential elements, place the emphasis on human efort and end up producing modern day Pharisees instead of Christians who are growing in dependence on Christ.

  • I agree. My husband and I recently finished a bible study on “discipleship” at our church, only to find out afterwards that they don’t have a discipleship program. Anymore, I find that church is just a bunch of people sitting around talking about everything that’s wrong…who’s going to be the one to DO something about it?!?

  • wisdom…fantastic..i also agree with kieth..dont want to be a modern day pharisee…contrary to the working of the HOLY SPIRIT..and it hurts so many that WOULD come to him…- thanx 4 posting this! 😉

  • I just found your site and like it very much. I’m an old guy(60)who’s been in church most of my life. And I realized most of what I’d been reading on my own concerning true discipleship had been sorrowfully left out of 99% of our teaching. The Lord finally told me to do something drastic for a Baptist church…start a discipleship class!..(you would’ve thought,by some reactions, I was asking to teach a class on tearing down the church building and starting over—a thought which I must admit hasn’t evaded me). I got a small following of about 5 couples and a few individuals,and let me say, it has been so refreshing to see a new excitement for bible study,witnessing,outreach,that it’s sometimes overwhelming. Then to see it filter back into the church congregation through the boldness that the people are gaining is awesome. Pray for our class as we pray for folks like yourself!..thank you.

  • Thanks Mike. I pray that your class goes well and that some folks are able to see themselves as your disciples, not as members of your class.

  • Totally agree with this post and the comments.

    Way to go Mike!!!

    So, my husband and I have been sold out for discipleship since 2006 and it has become our passion. the thing is, we’ve never actually been discipled by another couple or individually. We first saw the awesome effects of it in 2006, gave up the control of our life, followed the Lord to the mission field and here we find ourselves a few years later, sold out more than ever, and still learning as we go, but so desperately desiring that same thing for us (selfishly, yes, but we do desire to be taught ourselves).

    Here is my question: Is it possible to be in the desert and still be discipling?

    thanks! Anastasia

  • Thank you for this insightful post.

    I’ve been pushed by the spirit to disciple and relay what I’ve learned for quite some time now and although I can’t say I know a whole lot on the subject, I do believe I’ve been somewhat of a disciple of Christ to many.

    To answer the question: Is it possible to be in the desert and still be discipling? my experience tells me, yes. Not to long ago I had hitchhiked down the west coast (in the metaphorical desert)on my quest to know God more intimately. I was learning and teaching almost simultaneously, not only were people intrigued and delighted to know more but it seemed easier to disciple after sparking their interest in that way. I have much to learn and hopefully much to teach as well.

    May God bless you all in your journey through life.

  • Especially then, James. God gives us thorns in the flesh so we depend on him. The best disciplers I know are broken. Disciples feel broken and are encouraged that someone they respect has been there too.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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