Congregation Should have for their own Discipleship Process
When it comes to discipleship, one can too often think about the tools necessary for the church and church leaders in helping to motivate people to become disciples. A far more elusive question examines what the actual members of the congregation require in order to flourish and excel within their own discipleship process. It's important to bear in mind that Jesus commanded us to "go and make disciples"; not converts, social justice agents, or moralists. Members of the congregation were called to the church in order to engage in a transformation of the inward self, as Jesus emphasized that the inward transformation would produce the outward fruits. Thus, the church does have a certain obligation to disciple those who are members of the congregation and thus, certain tools need to be used to accomplish this. This paper examines the tools that the congregation and members of the congregation can use collectively and together in order for the transformation of congregation members to disciples is complete.
One of the most basic tools that the congregation will absolutely need to have for their own discipleship is the act and element of love, as love is the most powerful tool within the whole universe. This passage from Deuteronomy 6:4-6, states as follows: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts." These teaching comments upon the ability of the Israelites to love their God with the entirety of their being, including their intellect, emotions and will. Thus, the value of this teaching revolves around the notion that love does not merely come from the heart, but from aspects of the entire entity. This passage demonstrates the importance of teaching this commandment to all children of a congregation. "Love is a mighty power, the universal foundation of oneness, goodness and the very nature of God. Love is a radiating force, a magnetic energy which attracts to itself all that is good, pure and joy filled. It has been said that, 'The heart of life is love.' Why is it that we human beings are always searching outside ourselves for fulfillment and love, rather than acknowledging and accepting the fact that we are all created, rooted and grounded in divine love? We have been loved from the beginning and are the very activity of Love" (Norman, 2002). By teaching this tool to members of the congregation, this will set them all up with a strong foundation for achieving their goals and objectives and becoming disciples who are able to remember that it really does begin and end with love.
Love should be the default emotion and facet that they go to in their work so that all actions and interactions are tempered with this emotion. This is particularly true because even in church congregations, human interactions can become complex and overly complicated, and even in positive supportive environments like these, people can still ruffle one another's feathers and become hurt and feel hurt. Love needs to be the guiding force which arches over all interactions: not only will this create a more harmonious congregation; it will create a congregation which more aptly embodies the teachings of the Bible and which has members who engage like true disciples.
Yet another compelling reason to make love the fundamental pillar of human engagement among the members of the congregation can be found in Jeremiah 31-3: "Long ago the Lord said to Israel: 'I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself'" (Biblegateway.com). Since God has loved his people so profoundly and so consistently, one of the best ways for them to thank him for this tremendous gift is to extend such consistent love to one another and to constant engage in interactions with one another which are founded in love and understanding. "The Apostle John called those who have been loved by God in this saving way to respond by being people of love. He called believers to love one another and obey God. God's love is truly understood from our personal and intimate relationship with Him in Christ. Before we are able to love our brothers, we must know God's love for us in Christ. Those who have been loved by God are continually loved by Him. We know it because God continues to change us from the inside out. Every day He makes His people more and more like Christ. The believers' position before God and his intimacy with Him is all because of the Father's initiating love" (Tiscione, 2013). This means that one of the tools of members of the congregation, before they can even engage in loving one another, is that they need to understand the love that God has for them.
By truly communing with and understanding that profound sense of unconditional love, can congregation members truly understand what it means to try and replicate such a pure and unshakeable love for one another.
Creating and fostering this bond with God is the clearest and most surefire way to lay a strong foundation for engagement with other clergy members. Accepting God's love, exploring God's love and then using those findings as the basis for loving one another is some of the purest work the members of the congregation can do in order to become stronger and more dedicated and more evolved on their path as disciples.
Colossians 3:1-17- Transformation
Another pillar of the congregation's disciple process is the necessity of transformation: thus members of the congregation need to be willing and able to accept that part of their discipleship journey revolves around the act of transformation into the name and image of God. This of course revolves around Colossians 3:1-17. The very first sentiment of this passage is the notion that as a part of the process of discipleship, all members need to actively engage in setting their hearts and minds on loftier ideas and images. This notion is expressed in the following sentiment: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory" (biblegateway.com). This passage sets a tone and a standard for how human beings need to behave, setting their ideals on factors and items of this world which are above and beyond the baseness of earthly things.
This is such a relevant point to make as modern society is often so riddled by material goods which promise to make our lives brighter, sleeker, easier and more convenient. It can be far too easy to get caught up in the idea that one needs to surround oneself with the latest bright and shiny objects in order to be happy. It can be almost an unavoidable type of perspective on the world, particularly if all one's friends and colleagues are acting like the importance of having the latest thing or item is absolutely essential for human happiness. Modern society so aptly revolves around an acquisitional nature, where happiness and self-worth are equated to how much stuff one has in one's home: this is entirely problematic as such a mindset will always separate one from becoming a real disciple and from aligning oneself God in a true and complete sense.
The call to follow Christ is also a call to be transformed into His image. Thus, when we accept Jesus' invitation to a "with God" life…our goal is to "keep company with him" in such a way that Christ's life becomes visible in ours. Transformation is a gradual process, but it starts in how we transform the way that we think so that we are able to more fully and openly use our minds to consider and engage with the aspects of life which are simply more important than anything else: devoting our lives to God and God's teaching.
This passage is also relevant in that it acknowledges the earthly desires and temptations that riddle many of the members of the congregation and instructs how those earthly desires should be properly dealt with. As Colossians 3:1-17 states: "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived" (biblegateway.com). This passage both acknowledges the dangers of life on earth, the temptations present and how to deal with them. It also presents a meaningful ideal of how in…
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