Have you ever noticed that over time, a church develops an identity? One church is known for its rich theology, helping people grow in their understanding of God. Another is known for its small group involvement, helping people live out their faith in community. And another church seems to baptize new Christians every week as they passionately share the hope Jesus offers to broken people.
This even happens on an individual level. One person has a passion for the Word, and can quote relevant Scriptures in any situation. Another person takes action, working hard to live out their faith and do the things Jesus says. And another person is always talking with others about Jesus, inviting them into a relationship with Him.
What we see are three principles at work, and when they are not practiced collectively, we end up with imbalanced disciples.
The reality is, fully formed disciples are consistently growing in three areas:
In John 17:3, Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Growing in knowledge doesn’t mean that we read the Bible like a textbook. Rather, it means developing an intimate relationship with the Father as He reveals Himself to us through His Word, in prayer, as well as through promptings of His Holy Spirit and in the lives of other believers.
In John 13:7, after Jesus teaches His disciples the importance of serving others, He says, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” It’s not enough to know what the Bible says, we must actually apply its teachings. Our faith must reveal that we believe what Jesus says to be true, and as the Lord gives us new understanding, we must strive to obey His commands in faith.
In Luke 8, Jesus heals a man who was possessed by demons. Afterwards, the man wants to follow Him as a disciple. Jesus invited the 12 disciples to follow Him, so you would expect Him to grant this man’s request. But to our surprise, He says “no,” instructing him instead to go to his house and tell what great things God has done for him. The man takes this to heart and goes a step further, telling the people throughout his town about Jesus. Sharing involves talking with non-Christians about the hope Jesus offers us all, and it also involves talking with other believers about what we are learning and the good God is doing in our lives. As the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:6, “the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.”
Most people tend to value one principle above the others. This is to be expected, since we are all different parts of Christ’s body, and thus, we each serve a different purpose in His Church. But to ignore any of these areas will result in our spiritual stagnation both individually and within a church as a whole.
So let’s encourage one another. Of these principles, where do you naturally gravitate in your walk with God and how can you teach that principle to another Christian? What can you do to develop an area where you may be weak and who can you learn from?
Special thanks to Curtis Sergeant, who first explained these principles to me. You can follow Curtis and his ministry at https://metacamp.org/