Life can get complicated.
We know the drill. There are deadlines to keep, bills to pay, places to go, chores to do. Then something breaks down. Where does the money come from? How will you get to where you need to go? How will you fit everything you want into your schedule? Will you ever find some time to relax in the midst of everything?
What about discipleship, or your daily life as a baptized believer in Christ? Does that feel complicated too?
A Daily Life of Faith
There are a lot of different things we think we should be doing as disciples of Christ. Jesus gave His life for us. He has called us to be His redeemed children, won through the Cross. In the empty tomb He broke the power of death, and He has promised us who have been baptized into His life, death, and resurrection a participation in His resurrection when He returns. It will happen. Until then, however, the daily life of faith can really seem complicated.
There are so many pressures pulling on us all the time. There are things we want to do, like have a more consistent prayer life or read the Bible more. There are church committees and groups that want our attention. There are multiple volunteer opportunities and pressures. There are members of our households or our neighborhoods who would be blessed if we just were more consistent witnesses to the faith. Finding time and energy for any of these, even for just praying with a friend, your spouse, or your children, can be difficult.
“Complicated” seems to be the nature of things, both in our everyday lives and in our everyday life of faith. Ever since the fall into sin, mankind has been frustrated by complexities. We all wish for something better. This is not about being busy or not being busy, having lots to do or not much to do. It’s about clarity of focus and purpose. Deep down we all desire a simplicity of clarity and focus in our daily lives. Likewise, we also desire a simplicity of clarity and focus in our discipleship.
What Does Healthy Discipleship Look Like?
Or put another way, in our daily lives as God’s people, what are we really aiming for? If we could only focus on one simple idea that would help us find clarity and focus in our lives as God’s people today, what would it be? Where are we aiming? What does a simple and healthy daily walk of faith, otherwise known as mature discipleship, look like?
One way to find simplicity and clarity in our daily lives as baptized believers in Christ, or disciples of Christ, is to look to Jesus’ words in John 8:31, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is a common teaching of Jesus, but because it is so common it is often overlooked. In reality, this description of mature discipleship as a life of abiding in God’s Word is not only powerful, it is simple.
To expand on this further, we could say that mature disciples of Christ abide in God’s word in a variety of ways throughout life. Abiding in God’s Word, abiding in Christ, is not simply hearing it once or twice, but something deeper. As Jesus explained in the parable of the sower, mature disciples of Jesus are “those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Discipleship is about receiving God’s Word, meditating on it, and considering it through the day. Abiding in God’s Word is a state of being constantly fed, formed, and challenged by God’s Word. Abiding in God’s Word is a lifelong process by which God’s people who have heard and studied the Word take it to heart, ponder it, wrestle with it, try to put it into practice, and internalize it. It’s ongoing throughout life, and it cannot simply be learned in one class or at one age.
The simple goal is to empower disciples to abide in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life. The Holy Spirit uses the Means of Grace, Word and Sacrament, to form us in Christ. God alone gives life, and God alone gives growth. As baptized believers in Christ, what can we do to cultivate the understandings, attitudes, and habits of abiding in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life?
Keep Your Faith Walk Simple
“Complicated” is the natural state of things, and it is easy to keep things complicated when it comes to thinking of our lives in Christ. Simplicity is not the natural state of things in this sin sick and broken world, and it’s challenging to maintain. Abiding in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life is a simple concept, but it is not what the ancient enemies of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh want for us. We trust, however, that the Spirit will continue to form us in Christ as we abide in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life, so that we joyfully and faithfully engage our vocations as we look forward to the return of Christ.
How can you work to cultivate the understandings, attitudes, and habits of abiding in God’s Word in your life or in the lives of those around you?
Longing for spiritual fulfillment? God gives us every spiritual gift we need.