the weblog of Alan Knox

Helping each other follow Jesus… in different directions?

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in discipleship | 5 comments

Helping each other follow Jesus… in different directions?

As I explained in a previous post, I have started “defining discipleship as helping each other follow Jesus.” There are several aspects to this definition (which I described briefly in that previous post), and I think that each of the aspects is extremely important. In fact, when we lose one of those aspects, then we are less effective at discipling one another, and we hinder the growth (maturity) of the church.

Among the majority of the church today, “discipleship” is primarily attempted through one person speaking to a large number of people. This can be in the form of a preacher or teacher. Even in many “small groups,” a teacher is responsible for speaking the to the others in the group.

But, there’s an inherent problem in this method: it’s impossible to help each other follow Jesus in this way when Jesus is leading us in different directions.

Yes, it’s true that there are many general commonalities for all followers of Jesus. But, remember that following Jesus is a way of life. While there are many common traits to that way of life, there are also differences in the way we live it out.

For example, we are all called to “love our neighbors.” That’s true. And, we can teach a large number of people at one time that Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But, my neighbor is not your neighbor is not her neighbor is not his neighbor. We are different; our neighbors are different; our strengths and weaknesses are different; our neighbors’ needs and situations are different. We cannot help each other follow Jesus by one person telling the rest of us how to love our neighbors.

Consider this example also: We are all called to “go.” But, where does Jesus want us to go to? Does he want us to go across the street? Does he want us to go across the city to a different neighborhood? Does he want us to go across the state? Does he want ut to go to a different part of the country? Does he want us to travel to the other side of the world? We cannot help each other follow Jesus to where he wants us to go by one person speaking to everyone else.

So, in order to help each other follow Jesus, we must be willing both to speak to each other but also to listen to each other. We must be part of a group that small enough that we can get to know each other and truly encourage one another specifically to follow what Jesus is leading each of us in.

And, this is extremely difficult, even one on one. It’s easy for me to help you follow what Jesus is telling ME. But, that’s not discipleship. Instead, discipleship is helping you follow what Jesus is telling YOU. That’s a huge difference. If you love your neighbor in exactly the same way that I love my neighbor, then you may not actually be loving your neighbor. If you “go” the way that Jesus has told me to go, then you may not be following Jesus where he wants you to go.

So, yes, let’s help each other understand what Jesus tells his followers in common and in general. But, we also need to help each other follow Jesus even when he calls us in different directions.

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Series: Discipleship as “helping each other follow Jesus”

  1. Defining discipleship as helping each other follow Jesus
  2. Helping each other follow Jesus… in different directions?
  3. How has someone helped you follow Jesus
  4. Unintentionally helping each other follow Jesus
  5. Intentionally helping each other follow Jesus

5 Comments

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  1. 5-21-2013

    There are plenty of examples of this in Acts. The disciples were scattered, apparently by persecution but in reality by the Holy Spirit, so the gospel would go throughout the world. Some stayed in Jerusalem, others went to the gentiles. Each was led by the Spirit, but in different directions.

  2. 5-21-2013

    exactly!!!!!

  3. 5-21-2013

    Alan….yes, yes, yes to this post and the helping each other involves truly “listening” to one another. Listening incarnationally is a skill that very few of us have, but if were are really going to help each other follow Jesus, we must learn it; the ability to enter another’s world for the purpose of knowing them and helping them follow Jesus where He is telling them to go….good stuff. Once again, I refer you all to…www.emotionallyhealthy.org Exploring and stepping into emotional health is critical for the disciple. Thanks again for another great series.

  4. 5-21-2013

    Thanks Vic. A few of us ladies who have been journeying together for a few years are considering The Emotionally Healthy Woman as the next book we read together.

  5. 5-21-2013

    Andrew,

    I agree. There are many, many examples in Scripture. In fact, every person we “meet” in Scripture follows Jesus in a little bit different way than anyone else.

    Vic,

    Yes, it’s been so detrimental to the church that we have been taught to listen to certain people but we haven’t been taught to listen to one another.

    Randi,

    I haven’t been able to check out the site yet. So, if you read the book, I hope you write something about it.

    -Alan