The Paradox of Discipleship
Hopefully you were here last weekend or have watched the sermon online. I continue to be struck by the graphic representation we saw that describes the process of spiritual growth and devotion in the life of the Apostle Paul. It is quite instructional to us for determining what it means to mature as a follower of Jesus. We saw that such a change in trajectory comes from an often painful and humbling examination of our inner life and a great deal of patience. Our Heavenly Father is so wonderfully patient with us, and this journey requires a great deal of patience with ourselves. Paul was descending into greatness throughout his entire life and so will we. God is indeed at work within us to produce this result, but it requires our partnership.
Plato, the Greek philosopher, is credited for saying, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” We certainly live in a world that fills each of us with enough distractions to keep us from ever considering such an examination if we wish to neglect it. But a follower of Jesus does not wish it so. The great Puritan, John Owen, says to us about such examination: “Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice, and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers.” So our examination begins with a question for us to establish a needed context—Who are we in light of who God has revealed Himself to be, and what are we to do about this but love and obey Him?
It was another Puritan, the great Jonathan Edwards who said, “In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of His hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on His hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin."
As you contemplate these words of Edwards, make them your own. They not only remind you to apply last weekend’s sermon, but they also remind you of the daily need for the grace of God. Do not fear the weaknesses you discover; fear not discovering them at all. It is necessary to embrace the paradox of discipleship where we descend into greatness.