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Life-On-Life Discipleship

Some time ago I read the horrifying news of a mother who, for whatever tragic reason, decided to dump her newborn baby in a local trash dump. Why did she do it? Perhaps she was scared, in despair, or just plain hateful. When we hear of news like this, we are literally shocked beyond belief! I mean, what kind of mother would do such a thing?! Surely not one acting in complete sobriety. Surely not one that is acting from love and concern for her helpless, newborn baby. What we would expect from any mother would be tender and loving care for her newborn baby, understanding the child’s utter dependence upon her for his/her well-being and nurturing.

I often think back to this terrible act by this mother when I reflect upon the tragic absence of life-on-life discipleship in the church. Similar to physical parenting and nurturing, God has designed His church to be a place where Christians learn to spiritually nurture one another. When a person is spiritually born again, that Christian is, essentially, a spiritual infant. A Christian is utterly dependent upon Christ first, and other Christians for his/her spiritual development and nurturing. Left to themselves, they will not experience maturity in full measure. However, empowered by the Spirit, guided and nourished by the Word of Christ, and stimulated by other Christians, that Christian will grow in Christ. This is the way God has graciously designed His church to function. We need the Spirit, the Word, and one another! 

Sadly, we often forget about the importance of God’s people in our lives. We think we can live isolated and autonomously. At times we are simply deceived into thinking that we can actually function self-sufficiently, and that we have everything we need, in ourselves, to live vibrantly and victoriously in the Christian life. The fact is none of us were created to be an “island.” Each of us is “interdependent,” and is to “flesh out” this dependence by the cultivation and active pursuit of life-on-life relationships with other Christians.  

This begins with those of us who are “older” in the church, making the effort to pursue the “younger.” When was the last time you pursued someone else for mutual growth and encouragement in Christ? When was the last time you took someone under your wing to invest into them in word and action? When was the last time you, personally and humbly, invited someone else to invest into you, be it formal or informal? All that we need to do is look at the great, yet so straightforward, example of our Lord Jesus, who for a time, and in deliberate fashion, poured His life into a few faithful men. We are called to follow His example, and be “disciple-making disciples.”