A Would-Be Disciple Talking in His Sleep...zzzzzz
by Mike Giffin
“The most tragic thing in the suffering of Christ was not the cross but the sleeping Disciples.”
With Easter fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a “Christian” or more succinctly, a “Disciple of Christ.” How do we measure Discipleship? Churches keep track of worship attendance, Sunday school attendance, tithing, offerings, missions participation, etc. But how do we measure and evaluate our efforts to make Disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world?
I guess that in order to measure and evaluate our efforts, one has to decide what a Disciple really is. Clearly, Disciples are people who believe in Christ, seek forgiveness of their sins, desire for the Holy Spirit to work through their lives - change their hearts, transform their souls - and help them to grow in Christ-like holiness. Disciples have a “faith that works” - that through the Holy Spirit working in their lives, they demonstrate to others the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generousity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Disciples strive to follow the two great commandments - love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Disciples seek to obey the “great commission” to spread the “Good News” and share their faith with others and help them to come and be the people of God....
Hmmmm....That’s quite an obligation for Discipleship. However, no one ever said following Christ would be simple or trouble-free. In fact, quite the opposite. We are told by Jesus that we must give up ourselves and “pick up our cross and follow me.” No easy task...So, if we seek to be Disciples of Christ, as a practical matter, what should we be doing?
One common sense way for us to develop Discipleship is to support our churches with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. I wonder how many of us take this seriously -
PRAYERS - Do you pray? How often? I confess - I don’t pray as often as I should. Once or twice a day is not enough. And praying only in times of trouble is inadequate. We should “pray without ceasing.” What do we pray for? Are we praying for our churches and the church leadership? Are we asking for forgiveness of our sins? Are we asking for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and churches and help us to do the work God calls us to do? How can we hope to be in relationship with God if we don’t talk to Him? How can we know what He wants us to do, if we don’t listen?
PRESENCE - How often do we go to church? Is worshipping God a priority in your life? Or do other things take precedent - soccer, baseball, football games, cheerleading, golf, going to the lake, etc. If we don’t consider going to church as being important, it won’t be for our children and younger generations.
GIFTS - Do we give what we can to support our churches and those in need? Do we give with a joyful heart? Or is it more important to satisfy our own materialistic needs? Where is our treasure? Or, maybe, we withhold our giving as a way of “pay back” when things at church don’t go our way? Is God impressed with the ways in which we spend money and utilize our financial blessings?...Jesus wept...
SERVICE - Do we say “yes” when called upon to serve? When we see a need in the church, do we volunteer? We want youth programs and vacation bible school and various activities in our churches, but do we make the effort to get involved and make a difference? Or is our attitude, “I did it before. It’s someone else’s job!” You may very well have served in the past, but, guess what? It’s your turn again! I hate to say it, but there are no term limits in regard to service and we aren’t going to enact any in the foreseeable future.
WITNESS - In what ways do you share your faith with others? Are your actions a witness of your faith to others? 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “always be ready to answer anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that lies within you.” Can you do that? Have you made the effort to learn and understand the basic doctrines and tenets of the faith? Do you know what it is that you believe and why you believe it? Can you discuss and share your faith and the Good News of Jesus Christ and His message of salvation with others?
God has blessed all of us in so many ways that we need to get serious and get excited about our faith! But to do that, we can’t be “sleeping Disciples.” We need a wakeup call and we need it now!
What do you think?