True discipleship is a divine romance; it’s a sacred dance; it’s a journey of surrender; it’s a daily journey to the cross. It’s about us embracing the most privileged opportunity we have been given which is to die to ourselves and trust God for our resurrection and reward. He says, “Humble yourself under My mighty hand and I will exalt you in due time.”
I don’t ever want to get to a place where the resurrection and reward God gives me turns me away from seeking first the Kingdom to God and His righteousness. In simple terms that means that nothing is held closer to my heart than God Himself.
So, when Jesus said, “If you love your mum and dad or you love your kids more than you love Me, you’re not worthy of Me,” He wasn’t punishing us or putting us in a position to be irreverent or inconsiderate or disrespectful toward our family. He was simply saying, “If you put Me first in everything, you’ll be much more able and empowered to love them as I love them.” The best thing you could ever do for your family and certainly your children is to put God first. Your love for them will be life-altering if your love for God is the most important thing in your life.
Over my many years in ministry I have probably come across a thousand books, sermons or videos on discipleship. One author or teacher will give us twelve steps to discipleship, another only has six steps. In fact, there has been so much teaching on discipleship that the whole concept has become overwhelming for many people in the Church. How sad is that?
We should not be surprised though. The enemy of God is always active in the Church trying to complicate what is simple. If Satan can turn one task into many and convince us that we are not true disciples until we have ticked all the boxes, then he has won a major victory in his mission to disempower the Church.
When you drill down through all the waffle, all the legalistic rules and requirements and the confusing theological language about discipleship, you find one simple reality: relationship. It’s all about our relationship with God.
The source of all those wonderful qualities of a good disciple which we are exhorted by well-meaning preachers to achieve through hard work and discipline, is our relationship with God. We will never align ourselves with God by our hard work, diligence and human effort. We can only align ourselves with God by spending time with Him and getting to know Him as a friend.
It’s great to worship God as our Creator, Redeemer and deliverer – but His greatest desire and our greatest need is to draw near to Him and enter the ‘holy of holies’ of His heart – that place where we know we are His friends and even more than that, we are His sons and daughters – He is Abba, Father.
Jeremiah 29:14 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord …”
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants … I have called you friends.”
Our greatest need is God Himself. Our greatest desire should be God Himself. Our moment by moment responsibility is to die to ourselves and intentionally live for God. We are not called to seek the rewards and blessings of God, we are called to seek God Himself, in His essence. We are not called to produce fruit, we are called to abide in the vine and the fruit will come naturally in the context of relationship.
So, our deepest need and our most important prayer should be, “Lord, I want to know You more.”