“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2: 6 – 7
What is the basic foundation of discipleship and Kingdom citizenship? Maybe 3 things:
1) Learn how to live ‘in Christ’
2) Learn how to live out our lives as part of the people of God, how to live as the body of Christ
3) How to share the possibility of that same life to those who don’t yet know it
Frank Viola, in his book “Finding Organic Church’ notes that this was the mission of Jesus, Paul and all the other apostles and those who trained. I want to look at these three items in a mini series. I am aware that not all followers of Jesus are given this foundation in their discipleship. I’ve observed what kind of fruit is produced in lives without some sort of solid foundation in Christ. Today, I’ll look at learning to live in Christ.
1) Learn How to Live in Christ
I’m glad that my early discipleship had this foundation, to a degree. When I was being taught what it meant to live my life as a follower of Jesus, I remember being taught the importance of repentance and faith, that initial declaration of allegiance to Jesus and being encouraged to trust him for everything. I remember receiving the Holy Spirit with power, which has stood me in good stead all these years, never having to doubt the presence or reality of God. God just delighted to confirm his work in my life by his presence, giving me confidence that he had indeed begun his work.
The language that was used in my settings were ‘learning the means of grace’ which I didn’t understand so much as a 15 year old, but came to know and appreciate. The ‘means of grace’ are pretty much what it says on the tin…the things that help us to be responsive to God’s grace; things like exploring the bible, prayer, worship, and the like.
I know after 15 years in ministry that people struggle with this, and that I’ve struggled at times with this. There are so many things which mean that we’re not built up in our faith. Everything from circumstances, laziness, our own waywardness, and everything in between. The most unhelpful thing to do is to beat ourselves up over it. There have been times when I’ve become a stranger to prayer and then what happens is that I put off getting back to it…sorta the same (but worse) as if you’ve forgotten to take your library books back and you can’t bear the stare of the librarian! Naughty child syndrome.
But I don’t find that my Father has that sort of reaction or outlook. I’ve enjoyed so often that sense of the Father’s delight that I’ve come back, that I’ve reached out again, that I’ve made the connection. I’ve also known at times, particularly through my fight with major depression in the past, that sense of being held when I wasn’t able to string two words. To reach a low point but know that at the very bottom of the hole is the strong arm of the Lord. This has been when grace has been most amazing.
I know its quite trendy to be ‘less sure’ of our faith, and I do think we have to evaluate our experience and what we are taught as if to test it, but for me, although there have been many unhelpful things I’ve had to unlearn, I never cease to be drawn to the example of Jesus, the lavishing love of the Father and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.
I guess I’d ask ‘how are your roots?’ Do you sense that experience of being built up, encouraged, growth in faith? What would help you in that? If you’re in a dry patch, or even a dark patch, how can you take a step towards Him? And finally, is there anything that can really stop you from grabbing the opportunity of the presence moment to look again at Jesus and turn towards him?