Discipleship 101

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Kingdom Living #5

This week we want to drill a little deeper. Jesus commissioned His apostles to make and discipline disciples. But to disciple someone and also to teach someone a discipline, one must have authority. “By what authority do you do these things?” is one of the most important questions in the Bible.

Just as important is this question, “How does one exercise authority in the kingdom?” These two questions will be the focus of our articles in the coming weeks. Last week we ended with a third question, “How did the early church disciple each other?

To attempt to answer this third question we need to see the pattern they followed. The overriding pattern was reciprocal dependence or interdependence. Kingdom living thrives when its citizens are neither dependent (helpless) nor independent (rebellious) but when they are interdependent (synergistic). Notice with me the pattern from the book of Romans: Romans 12:5, 10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16. Please take the time to read these passages. Every one of them describes life as it should be in the kingdom.

Observe with me these powerful truth-filled principles. 1. Citizens in the kingdom have a joint life as individuals. We are not to be like eggs in a carton – together in one place but separate. We are to be like eggs broken and beaten together where community identity and function is preeminent and individual identity lessened and submissive. We are still individuals but the ‘we’ is far more important than the ‘me’. Humility replaces pride.

2. Behaviors are upward reaching. Many ‘actions’ are to be reciprocal, i.e., love, affection, preferring, edifying, attitudes, acceptance, instruction, recognition, etc. This is more than just mutual relationship. Each of these is an element within a relationship that is to grow and excel all the more! You are to be loved by members jointly connected to you within the kingdom. And you are to reciprocate that love in return. Here is the kingdom difference. You are to grow and excel in loving others because someone submissively helped you grow. Then you are to help others grow and excel in loving others submissively. The whole kingdom is to excel in loving others due to synergy and cooperation rather than ‘star power’ and celebrity worship. Citizens of the kingdom are to grow and excel in love, in affection, in encouragement, in acceptance, in honoring others, etc. synergistically. This excellence and growth continually reaches upward to become more like our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Citizens in the kingdom are at different stages of development in these upward behaviors. This creates opportunities for every citizen to serve and to be discipled. The citizen submits themselves to help others who are not as advanced along the upward path as they are. And simultaneously, the citizen submits to others who are more advanced than themselves.  Leaders submit to serve those who have not progressed to their level of growth AND they submit to be discipled by those superior in the discipline of life in His kingdom. Greatness in the kingdom is not in being a ‘star’ elevated because of personality and power but in being a slave submissively serving all who can be benefited by their service. This causes the exercise of authority to be radically different in the kingdom if leaders follow Christ’s relational leadership i.e., servant leadership. More next time…

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