The One whom we follow is not primarily interested in what we know or what we do. His primary interest is in our heart. That mysterious center of our personhood. As has been often repeated – “it’s not about a religion, it’s about a relationship”. We can know lots of things about God and still be a jerk. We can do lots of things for God and yet not know Him. The Bible teaches that the untransformed heart is desperately wicked but that Jesus came so that it might be made pure. Working on our hearts, reflecting upon ourselves, our past and our brokenness is hard work. It is probably the single toughest part of the discipleship process – and the most important.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Following Jesus without being grounded in the living word of God is a dangerous thing – in fact, you might not be following Jesus at all but a god of your own invention. Any serious disciple-making process needs to be focused in and on the imparting of scriptural truths and knowledge found in God’s word – which of course need to make the longest 18 inch journey known to mankind – from the head to the heart.
Just because I have decided to follow Jesus does not mean that I suddenly know how to love my wife, parent my kids, manage my money or control my addictions. It is of utmost importance that Christianity not be reduced to a behavioral modification system. Yet, mentoring, training and equipping followers of Jesus with “real world” life and relational skills is important. Few take parenting classes yet many have children. Not a lot of us steward God’s resources wisely yet we all have been leant them. We all need help in these areas – training, counseling, guidance and methods. It is imperative that as a community we help train one another up in “how shall we now live”.
As followers of Jesus, we are a “sent” people. And so therefore we must “go”. His call is to far away places like the Guatemala City garbage dump and to places as close as our neighbor’s door. Jesus, our master teacher, sent His followers out very early in their journey – knowing that in their going it was they who would often benefit the most. No disciple-making process can be complete without the call away from the comfortable and usual and towards those who need Jesus and His people. Of course that includes the poor, the broken and the marginalized but it also includes our neighbors searching for meaning or peace or comfort. Thus we must be prepared to go and to give an answer for the hope found in us.