“When are we finished being formed as disciples of Jesus Christ? It’s not over until it’s over (in the ultimate sense). We are always a work in progress, with more room to grow. So every congregation needs ways to continue the journey.”—SHIFT
I have always loved the analogy of the Christian life as a journey. The paradox is that each of us begins that journey in a unique place but we all begin at the same place. Not everyone has a Damascus road experience as the apostle Paul did but this does not make our decision less valid. Some of us grew up in the church while others came to a commitment to Christ in our maturity. We brought our own backgrounds, experiences, and God-given gifts into that relationship. At the same time, we all begin the journey as babes, unformed and untested.
The wonderful thing about our journey with Christ is that it is ongoing and continuous. As Mark Tidsworth points out in the quote above from SHIFT: Three Big Moves for the 21st Century Church, we are always in the process of being formed as disciples. What are some steps we can take to engage more effectively in that journey?
First, we can acknowledge our need to abide in the presence of Christ daily. We are never apart from Christ, but we can recognize that relationship more effectively if we take times during the day to breathe a prayer of thanks or appreciation. I am not talking about praying for a parking place (but you can do that if you wish) but simply expressing gratitude for the presence that abides with us as believers. How do you acknowledge the presence of Christ in your life each day?
Second, we can set aside time for prayer, Bible reflection, and listening to God. Please note that I did not use the term “Bible study.” We study the Bible to learn and teach, but sometimes we just need to meditate on scripture and let God speak to us through the text. How do you listen for the Word of God to you each day?
Third, we can commit ourselves to fellowship with other believers. We don’t make the journey alone. Although the decision to follow Christ is an individual one, we are expected to travel in company with other pilgrims. In so doing, we are not only strengthened, but we encourage others as well. How are you involved in community with other believers?
So the journey continues. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)