Jesus is a King, and rules the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ message was that He is establishing His Kingdom on earth. This process began with his death and will be completed at his return. These are some of the ways it looks like when His Kingdom comes:
Those who are lost will draw near to God
People from all nations will gather to worship.
The sick will be healed (physically, emotionally, and spiritually)
Those in bondage to sin and addiction will be set free
The disenfranchised will be shown mercy
The oppressed will see justice
The hungry will be feed
Society will be transformed
Creativity will be released
In short, earth begins to look like heaven. The church exists to co-labor with Jesus as He brings his kingdom. We are to find out what Jesus is doing by listening to His Spirit, watching what He is doing in the world, and join Him in his work. We are to do His will, His way. When a group of people become radically God-centered three things happen throughout the church:
Renewal: The church is refreshed, reformed and repents.
Revival: The lost are drawn to Christ.
Awakening: The community is transformed by the gospel.
This church exists to see the Kingdom of God come in power. We want to be totally committed to seeing renewal, revival and awakening. Therefore, we expect all of our members to lavishly give of their time, talents and treasures toward that end.
There are thousands of things we can do as a church. But the main thing is to keep the main the main thing, and to eliminate anything that competes with the main thing. Jesus is the main thing. We want to be a community that gives Him his rightful place as number one, and allows Him to shape our lives and lead His church.
He said that the main thing he wanted His church to focus on is making disciples (Matt. 28:20). He believed that when people became mature disciples they would be better prepared to partner with Him to see the kingdom come.
If that’s what He values, then we want to place our time, energy and resources into making his vision a reality. But to do that first we must answer some important questions.
What is A Disciple?
Jesus was a rabbi, and his followers were called disciples. A disciple/rabbi relationship is like a student teacher relationship with one exception. A student wants to know everything a teacher knows so that she can get a passing grade. A disciple sees the rabbi’s relationship with God, therefore wants to learn to live like the rabbi does so that he can know God intimately like the rabbi does. Rabbis used to say that they teach to “Change the mind, to change the heart, so that we may change the lifestyle.”
How did Jesus live?
We cannot make disciples that lived like Him, if we don’t know the way that he lived. As I studied the life of Jesus I discovered seven attributes:
Intimacy with the Father:
Jesus had a close relationship with the Father. Mature disciples frequently spend time with God. They worship Him passionately both at church and in their free time. They take their pain to God, and enjoy His presence. Their identity in is being children and lovers of God, not in what they can do for God. They know how to listen to His voice to guide them, discern it from their voice, and obey what he says. They show love to Him by obeying Him.
When people met Jesus their lives were changed for the better. Mature disciples live with honor and love toward everyone. They are authentic, honest, and intimate with others. They handle conflict with self-control and without trying to control others. They seek to develop a healthy marriage and pour into their children. They build people up rather than tear them down. They are able to set God-focused boundaries. They willingly serve others to express God’s love.
Jesus’ life message was the kingdom of God. He would talk about the kingdom, and then demonstrate it by doing miracles, healing the sick, setting people free, and sharing prophetic words. Jesus did this in ways that were healthy, and free from hype and pretense. Mature disciples bear supernatural fruit. They pray for the sick, minister inner healing, cast out demons, and care for the disenfranchised under the Spirit’s power. They live with expectancy, faith, and risk.
Living in Freedom:
Jesus lived free from the power of sin. Mature disciples are people of character. They bear the fruits of the Spirit. Their identity is found in Christ. They have self-control over their thoughts, words and actions. When they sin, they confess and repent. They forgive those who have harmed them. They work at restoring and making restitution in relationships where they have sinned against others. They seek to cultivate character, especially integrity, and live free from addictions. Daily they become freer and freer from sins so that they may properly love God, people, and themselves.
Jesus gave his whole heart to serving God. Mature disciples use their time, talents and resources to the glory of God. They serve where God has gifted them. They do their jobs as if they were working for God. They manage their money according to biblical principles. They take what God has taught them,and pass it on to others.
Jesus was a friend of sinners. Mature disciples pray frequently for their skeptical friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, and church attendees. They talk to people about Jesus in a culturally relevant, nonreligious way. They live as ambassadors for God.
Jesus knew the Bible well. Mature disciples know how to read the bible in its historical context, and correctly interpret passages using commentaries. They have read the Bible from cover to cover, and understand the major themes of the Old and New Testament. They have a strong grasp of orthodox theology, and biblical apologetics, and can think biblically about the pressing issues of the day. They read their Bibles frequently in order to submit their lives to the Lord’s teaching.
The Discipleship Process
Learning to live like Jesus is a process. People don’t start out as mature disciples. They start out as unbelievers. The discipleship process is similar to courtship leading up to marriage. The unbeliever is like the girl who isn’t aware of the boy who has a crush on her. Jesus is madly in love, and is pursuing them. When a person is a seeker it is similar to casally dating Jesus. This person is checking him out to see if He is worth falling in love with. When a person becomes a believer it is like going steady. That person has said of all the religions in the world “I choose Jesus to love exclusively.” Discipleship is like marriage. It is the stage when a person is ready to commit everything to the relationship. More commitment is exchanged for more intimacy. The mature disciple is like someone who has went through the process of building a life together.