August 25, 2006

Convert or Disciple?

The past week I have been reading The Great Omission by Dallas Willard. I always find him challenging and convicting.

Having grown up in a "works" emphasizing background, I often have to fight the guilt of "not doing enough." I think many people feel that same way. The primary debate between Calvinists and Arminians, I believe, is the discussion around grace and works. (There are other things involved. I don't want to over-simplify the discussion, but feel this is one issue at the heart of the conversation.)

I like Dallas's comment that "Grace is opposed to earning, not effort." It reminds me that I cannot earn my salvation or put myself in a place where God loves me more. Perseverance in the face of trials, practicing the spiritual disciplines, and participation in the community are not ways to earn salvation. They are ways that God makes us more like His Son. They are ways God uses to transform us from our present state into a "new creation" that is is clothed with "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

God doesn't just want to get us out of hell. He doesn't just want to forgive our sins. God wants to heal us completely. (By healing I mean more than just physical healing.)

Often we sell "following Christ" short by reducing it to simply the forgiveness of sins, escape from Hell, and entrance into heaven. It is more than conversion.

Being a disciple means that we drop our old way of doing life (repent) and begin doing life in the Way of Jesus. Instead of asking "What would Jesus do?" We ask, "What would Jesus do if He were me?" We accept the life of a disciple whatever career field we enter.

God wants to make us holy...Christlike.

God makes us more like His Son through our perseverance, our practice of the disciplines, and our participation in His community. It is funny how the more we "do" these things, the more "grace" is given.

The standard God sets is high. Often people say things like, "That way of life is impossible!" When, I think, they really mean, "That is too hard!" Just because something is hard, does not mean that it cannot be done. Too often people expect a lightning bolt from heaven or "revival" when what they need is consistent pursuit of God. If we are not spending time in His word, praying regularly, participating in His community, then we have no reason to expect God to "renew" or "revive" us. That is like sitting in front of the television, eating Cheetos, and one day expecting to run a marathon.

This is both process and event. There is a point where we say, "I believe Jesus' way is the best way. I am going to live life trying to be like Jesus." But we also recognize that we are in process, and the rest of our lives will be a growing process. It is not easy, but it is do-able.

Are we converts or are we disciples?

I don't have it perfect. I fail often. But I want to be a disciple, and I know that when I do my part, God ALWAYS does his part and gives me grace to "do" my part.

1 comment:

  1. Amen!

    I don't remember where I read it but there was a story of a man who had a huge rock in his front yard and God told him to push against it... as hard as he can... so in full obedience, he pushed on that rock day and night... pushed as hard as he could...and finally one day he asked God, "when is this rock going to move?"... and God said to him, "Son look at yourself, your body is strong, you have built muscles and are healthy. Your job was not to move the rock, but to push against it and be obedient. I will move the rock."

    We so often look at what needs to be done instead of being obedient to what God has asked us to do, and day by day just being obedient. This daily obedience is what heals us. The day to day walk is where God brings others into our lives with needles and thread to stitch us up, and hold us up. By being obedient, He takes us where He wants us, heals us, restores us and makes us more like Jesus.

    D for disciple means day to day. C for convert means I chose Christ for ONE day.

    I want to be a disciple.