In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had something wonderful happen a few times – two that stand out. Each time, I was talking with someone who was struggling with relational or emotional issues. And, each time, the other person ended up encouraging me in Jesus Christ.
But, then, this is the way the Holy Spirit works through his children if we recognize that we are in mutual discipling relationships – that is, that we are helping one another walk in Jesus Christ. As I was growing up, I learned that discipling relationship were more unidirectional. Whether this was taught intentionally or caught by example, I don’t really know – although I could probably point to both options in my life.
While mutual discipleship would be a good topic for a blog post, that’s not the reason that I’m writing this post. However, it’s important to recognize that when I’m talking with someone, I’m not just wondering how I can help them follow Jesus. I’m always looking for mutual discipleship, knowing that Jesus could use anyone to help me follow him better.
In the two examples that I’ve been thinking about, two men were struggling. And, even though I was hoping to help them and encourage them in the midst of those struggles, I also recognized that these were brothers in Christ who were strong in the faith and who God has used previously to encourage and challenge me.
As we talked about trusting God through the circumstances of our lives – different circumstances, but the same need to trust God – they both asked me about my own life. That alone demonstrates the character and concern of these two brothers. Although they were struggling themselves, they also cared about me. They listened intently as I shared a few things, and they both asked me the same question (although perhaps phrasing it a little differently): Are you resting in the presence of Jesus Christ each moment?
I love that they asked me this! Seriously!
A few years ago, in different contexts, I would have expected Christians to ask me questions like these: “Are you having your daily quiet time?” “Are you reading the Bible every day?” “Are you faithfully attending church activities?”
Now, these can be good things, but they are – at best – means or methods that could possibly lead to the end that we should be seeking: resting each moment in the presence of Jesus Christ. This can also be stated as abiding in Jesus, or walking in the Spirit. But, the point is the same: For those of us who are in Christ, God is always with us through his Spirit. We do not have to conjure him or catch his attention. Instead, we must simply live in his power and presence instead of living by our own devices and plans.
My two friends had learned that while various activities (sometimes referred to as “spiritual disciplines”) might help me focus on Jesus Christ, the activities themselves are not the goal. And, asking about carrying out the activities could simply produce a feeling of false security. I can check off activities like praying or reading Scripture or attending church gatherings, but they do not mean that I am actually abiding in Christ.
So, are you resting in the presence of Jesus Christ each moment? Are you abiding in Christ and living in his power?