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.
For example, I said that it’s important for us to “help each other follow Jesus even when he’s leading us in different directions.” Then, my readers (you) answered this question: “How has someone helped you follow Jesus?” Finally, I argued that when we follow Jesus we also “unintentionally help each other follow Jesus.”
However, when we talk about helping each other follow Jesus (that is, discipling one another), we’re primarily talking about those times when we intentionally help each follow Jesus. We’re typically not talking about unintentional discipleship.
But, is “intentional discipleship” even valid from the perspective of Scripture? Is it valid for us to plan ways to help others follow Jesus? Yes. It’s not only valid, but we’re instructed (commanded) to intentionally help each other follow Jesus.
For example, consider 1 Corinthians 12-14, the longest passage in Scripture on spiritual gifts. Among other things, we’re told that all followers of Jesus are gifted and that the gifts are given for our mutual benefit. We’re also told that when we gather with other believers, we should only exercise those gifts (even gifts from the Spirit of God) if it would edify other people (i.e., help other people grow in maturity in Jesus Christ).
But, where’s the intentional part? It’s in 1 Corinthians 14:26 – “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” (1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV) When they came together, they already had an idea of how they would seek to edify one another. Thus, there was some planning and consideration involved.
However, there is another passage that’s even more straightforward. In Hebrews 10:24-25, the author clearly indicates that we should take the time to both help each other follow Jesus but also to consider how to best disciple each other:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
Like 1 Corinthians 12-14, this passage tells us that we get together in order to edify one another (although the author of Hebrews uses the related verb “encourage”). But, Hebrews 10:24 begins with the important exhortation: “Consider one another.” (Yes, the “one another” actually goes with the verb “consider.”) In order to “stir up love and good works” and in order to “encourage one another,” we must being by “considering one another.” This shows intentionality, planning, and personal response, realizing that we’re all at different places in our walk with Jesus, and we all need different kinds of help in following Jesus.
So, yes, we do unintentionally help each other follow Jesus when we are following him ourselves. But, we should also intentionally think about those brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of our lives in order to help them follow Jesus.
Of course, what we “consider” goes back to the first post in this series. We don’t “consider” how they can follow what Jesus is calling us to do. Instead, we “consider” how to help them both to understand what Jesus wants of them and also to follow wherever he’s leading them.
Series: Discipleship as “helping each other follow Jesus”
- Defining discipleship as helping each other follow Jesus
- Helping each other follow Jesus… in different directions?
- How has someone helped you follow Jesus
- Unintentionally helping each other follow Jesus
- Intentionally helping each other follow Jesus