Why don't we reeaaaallllly journey with people in discipleship?
Let me try to answer the question by telling you how one of our laypeople spent a portion of last Saturday. He was suppose to meet with the guy he is discipling and he got stood up. The authenticity of discipleship is a new world for this disciple. Learning how to be honest, do what you say you are going to do, learning to be vulnerable and dealing with the hard issues of life, these are all huge paradigmatic shifts for him. Therefore, when it got too hot in the kitchen, the first resort was to bail. So what would you do if you are the discipler?
He knows his disciple struggles with substance abuse, he knows that many of his disciple's relationships are not gospel centered, he knows there are lies, identity issues, squandered resources just to name a few. So what would you do in this situation? Maybe you would say, "Well he stood me up so I guess we will address these issues the next time we meet". Or maybe you would be relieved you got stood up so you have the time to do what you really wanted in the first place.
Well, this discipler did not go back and chill with his wife, but instead he spent Saturday looking for his friend in our hood. He went around from house to house, and finally found him. When they were finally face to face he was not welcomed with a warm embrace, actually, he received hostility and they begin to argue. By God's grace, the discipler stood firm on truth and explained why Christ was worth the fight and exhorted his friend to cast down the life of folly and to trust the wisdom of Christ as a new creation. This was huge for the disciple to see modeled to him such commitment, love, courage, grace and truth. Guess what? That story still has a lot more crazy stuff happening, even as you read. And as a church we are in the midst of craziness, but everyone is fighting for Christ.
This story is the reason why people redefine discipleship, and lessen the terms that Christ has made so clear. People do not walk this path because this kind of stuff is not sexy enough, there is not enough glory in it for us. There will be no pat on the backs for his faithfulness, only by God's grace will the relationship even experience redemptive qualities. Whether you are in the inner city or a suburban center, when you love people enough to deal with them being workaholics, porn addicts, spiritually apathetic, you name the issue; when you love people enough to get in their life and speak truth and walk with them, its just really hard, draining and time consuming.
The sad reality is that some of us are too selfish to even consider fighting on this level for someone to experience the gospel. I pray God would break your heart and give you the opportunity to repent. Some of us probably would trust Christ to normally engage culture but your church and its leaders have actually trained you to be self consumed and has constructed a God that is concerned with behavior modification, periodic good deeds and self indulgence. I pray the churches would quit patronizing God's people and actually equip them to do the work of a minister of the gospel.
Many others want to wrestle with how to place ones self under the authority of scripture and live out the gospel with integrity. May the Lord strengthen you and encourage you as you try to present a clear gospel to our culture.