The Destination of the Discipleship Journey

May 15, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: The Discipleship Journey

Topic: Discipleship Passage: Matthew 10:24–10:25, Romans 8:28–8:30

The Discipleship Journey

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

May 15, 2022

 

The Destination of the Discipleship Journey

When I was on the STPRC board of directors, one of the other board members was excited about an upcoming vacation she was taking with her husband. They had taken the time off, booked their flights, and looked forward to a wonderful two weeks together.

At the next board meeting, we asked her how her vacation was. We could tell from her face it didn’t go well. Everything was set for a great vacation: They had the time off, had their flights booked, had their suitcases packed, and were all ready for two wonderful weeks at the beach. The day before their flight they got the alert that it was time to check in. Problem was, their flights weren’t booked for Daytona Beach, their flights were booked for Dayton, Ohio.

The destination is kinda the most important part of the journey.

Two weeks ago we started a series called The Discipleship Journey by considering the beginning of that journey: when Jesus calls us to follow him. The way we come to faith in Christ may look different from believer to believer. One person is brought up in a Christian home and at some point hears Jesus call him or her to follow him. Another is, like Saul, dead set against Christianity and then Jesus knocks them off their horse and they hear Jesus say “follow me”. My journey began at an altar call after a Baptist church service. I was fifteen years old and didn’t understand a lot of what was happening, but I knew I wanted to follow Jesus. Hearing Jesus say “follow me” is where the journey begins.

But where is Jesus taking us? What is the destination of the discipleship journey?

To put it really simply, the destination is us looking like Jesus. Let’s look at two scriptures.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. Matt. 10:24-25a

Jesus says the objective (or destination) of the disciple is to become like their teacher.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.Rom. 8:28-30

There’s a lot of wonderful, faith-building theology in these verses but what I want to call our attention to is that God “predestined” (pre-destinationed) us to be conformed to the image of His Son.

God’s purpose, His destination for our discipleship journey is for us to be like Jesus.

But how can we know that we’re headed for the right destination? We don’t want to spend our lives thinking we’re heading to Daytona Beach when we’re really heading to Dayton, Ohio (no offense to Dayton, OH). To think we’re becoming like Jesus when we’re really not.

The fruit of the Spirit vs the fruit of the flesh

Jesus says in Matt. 7 that we will recognize them by their fruit. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t just “good fruit”, it’s “Jesus-fruit”. It gives us a window into the heart of Jesus.

  • Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control

We talked about next steps in our discipleship journey. As we walk the path of our lives, we are constantly coming to forks in the road. One direction is the way of the flesh and the other direction is the way of Jesus. At that point, the Holy Spirit convicts us to follow Jesus. And our flesh urges us to go the opposite way. It even tries to spiritualize it to make us think that God is urging us to lose the love and put on vengeance. Ditch the gentleness and dish out some much-deserved harshness.

But the Holy Spirit sends an alert if we are listening: is this like Jesus or unlike Jesus? Discipleship is, in great part, stepping towards love. Towards patience. Towards joy. Towards kindness.

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees and religious leaders thought their tickets read, “deeply spiritual” and “close to God” because they measured it by how much Bible they knew and how differently they lived than the common sinners. They prayed long prayers. They had the Bible pretty much memorized. Outwardly they lived holy lives. But inwardly – in their hearts – they were rotting away. Pride and hypocrisy and self-righteousness was eating away at them. But here’s something we need to remember: our flesh is no better than their flesh was.

Their pride is my pride. Their lack of compassion is my lack of compassion. Their hypocrisy is my hypocrisy. Their self-righteousness is my self-righteousness. And yours too. The difference between them and us isn’t in our flesh, the difference is that the Holy Spirit is working in you and me, not to redeem our flesh, but to put our flesh to death in order that Christ may live more brightly through us.

We want to be asking what’s the next step in my discipleship journey, and how can I help someone else take their next step in their discipleship journey, but we need to keep the destination in sight as we consider the next steps or we may be stepping in the wrong direction.

My home office desk faces a window and I look out on the street and the Mocarskis who live right across the street. But the other day a dad was walking in the street and his little daughter – I’d say she was maybe three years old – was following her dad. Except something behind her caught her attention so she was looking behind her as she was walking and I watched with some amusement as she began to veer off course. I’m sure she thought she was still following her dad, but she began to curve towards our front yard. All the while she was looking behind her. Finally her dad noticed what was going on and corrected her direction.

The goal of our destination is to be like Jesus. Which means the next step is to become more like Jesus. Are we more loving? More kind? More at peace? More gentle? More self-controlled? If we aren’t, we need to get our eyes back on Jesus to make sure we’re not headed in the wrong direction.

Spend time in the gospels. They are so rich and help us know Jesus better. The more we know what Jesus did as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the better we will be able to discern (with the help of the Holy Spirit) what Jesus would do in our current situation.

Integrity in attitude and action

The work of the Spirit to make us more like Jesus begins on the inside and works its way outward. He changes both our attitude and our actions because who Jesus is, he is through and through. He had perfect integrity – his inner life aligned perfectly with his outward life.

I want to keep this real practical cause I think that’s the way the Spirit works in us. Sometimes He works in our attitude which changes our actions. Sometimes he leads us to take actions that start to change our attitude. But the reason it’s important to let His surgical work go on in both is because our integrity depends on both growing.

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently and I hope I can explain it enough to give you a handle on how He might be working on you.

If we focus on the inner but not the outer, we can start to think we’re obedient to Jesus because we know certain things. Or feel certain things. Some Christian movements have focused on the inner life – and that’s good and important – but if it doesn’t get worked out in our actions then it’s just concepts. We become hearers of the word and not doers.

We become like the son who, when his father told him to go out and work in the field, said, “yes dad!” and didn’t go. Jesus said the son who said, “no dad” but then thought twice and went was the one who was obedient.

But it’s also possible to be real busy for the kingdom for the wrong reasons. The actions can be good but the reasons for the actions bad.

  • We can want the credit
  • We can be concerned about what people will think if we don’t do something (this could be true if you have a hard time saying no to people)
  • We might be suffering from a messiah complex where we feel we are a mini-savior that people need
  • We might be driven by guilt feelings – God won’t be pleased with me unless I do more to serve Him

Listen, we won’t be perfect on the inside or on the outside until we see Jesus face to face. Then we’ll instantly be transformed into his image by the power of God. Until then, we are disciples following Jesus with a limp. A limp in what we believe and a limp in what we do. A lot of the time we’re like that little girl – getting off track. But the Spirit is with us to bring us back on track and He’s at work to renew our thinking and our actions to make us more like Jesus.

One more important thing. We need each other to do this. We need the church. Now when I say church I

don’t just mean the hour between 10-11am. There are a 168 hours in a week, we definitely don’t want to make it all about one hour. I think this one hour is an important hour even as it was important in the NT for the church to gather together. But we are the church 168 hours a week. And together we have a mandate and a mission. Our mandate is to love each other (Jesus gave us one command: love one another) and our mission is to make disciples of all nations. Lead people to faith in Christ and help them grow in Christ. Disciples making disciples.

That really sums up what Jesus did. He loved and served and died to save the lost and build his church. That is the good news. So here are a couple practical application points:

  1. Read a gospel and observe and meditate on what Jesus does and how he does it
  2. Pray and ask the Spirit to better align our heart and actions to the heart and actions of Jesus
  3. Reach out to other believers. Invite someone from the church over for coffee or dinner. If you hear of a need, if you’re able, try to help out. We need each other to do this thing!
  4. Build friendships with those who don’t go to church. The way most people will be reached for Jesus today won’t be with a tract or a tent revival. We’re too skeptical for that. It will be through seeing something in your life and mine that they want, and trusting us enough to see that we are genuine (not perfect).
  5. Care for the hurting. I was blessed to find out that Stacy Mocarski is involved with the Make-A-Wish foundation and helps make wishes come true for little children who have cancer and are working through their treatments. She also volunteers for carefirst hospice. Love that! I’m sure there are others here that are showing mercy and kindness in ways that go unseen, but Jesus sees. Jesus constantly felt compassion for the hurting, as we grow more like him we will too.

Let’s keep our eyes on the destination – becoming like Jesus – and ask, what’s the next step? Holy Spirit lead me inwardly and outwardly to be more like Jesus. Amen.

More in The Discipleship Journey

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Growing as Disciples of Jesus

June 12, 2022

The Daily Cross of Discipleship

June 5, 2022

Three Keys to Making Disciples