A defining characteristic of mature disciples of Christ is that they abide in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life.
This simple statement was the key focus of my last blog post on the importance of abiding in God’s Word. Abiding in God’s Word means not only receiving it through hearing and reading, but also thinking about it, wrestling with it, returning to it, struggling with it, and letting the Spirit put it into action in our different responsibilities, or vocations.
Without added clarity, however, this statement is a sentiment and not something actionable. So, while keeping it simple and keeping the main thing the main thing, consider the below expansion of the definition with a more goal-oriented approach.
Mature disciples of Christ actively cultivate the attitudes, understandings, and habits of abiding in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life. In this post, it is my desire to help you begin to better understand this simple definition of mature discipleship and empower you to actively engage it in your own life. Let’s look at this definition piece by piece and consider what you can do to faithfully and joyfully abide in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life.
Let’s Dig Deeper
Mature disciples of Christ—Discipleship began when you were baptized. At that moment the Holy Spirit connected you to the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptism, however, puts a kind of target on our backs. Being a disciple means being a threat to the Devil’s work, and he will do everything in his power to tempt baptized believers to abandon their faith. We dare not take this lightly. Baptized believers continue to return to our power source, the Spirit, who works through the Means of Grace, to strengthen our faith and life. The Spirit gives us growth and maturity as He continually informs, forms, and transforms us throughout life by abiding in God’s Word. How can you remember your baptism and the epic role God has given you in His plan of salvation daily?
Actively cultivate—As noted above, the Spirit, not our own will or the wills of others, creates and sustains faith. Baptized believers can, however, cultivate different aspects of our lives to be more receptive to God’s Word. A farmer cannot make a crop grow, but he can cultivate the soil and provide the best conditions he can for growth. Trusting in the Spirit’s power alone to grow and mature our faith and life, we too cultivate what we can in our lives to provide the best conditions to abide in God’s Word.
The attitudes—How can you cultivate the attitudes that lead you to abide in God’s Word? When you consider your attitude toward anything, look to your motivations. What drives you in life? Why do you work and what do you strive for? Almost always, especially for adults, our motivation stems from our different roles or responsibilities in life. Consider your own roles and motivations. Where has God placed you? What tasks has He given to you to love and serve your neighbor? In your household, at church, at work, in your neighborhood or in your community? When cultivating a life of abiding in God’s Word, think of these roles and motivations and where God has placed you.
The understandings—Flowing from attitudes, how do you cultivate the understandings that grasp the great value of abiding in God’s Word? After considering your roles and motivations, look to your different needs and interests within those vocations. What sort of knowledge and skills could you use to better learn to abide in God’s Word daily where God has placed you? Do you desire to learn more about how to lead family devotions, faithfully love and serve your neighbor, or talk to your neighbors about the faith? Are you self-conscious about talking to others at church or to your children about the Bible, and want to learn it more yourself? What about specific teachings of the faith, or your Christian heritage, or how to serve in a variety of ways? With these questions in mind, look for resources or areas of service where you can continue to cultivate those understandings, including Bible reading plans, books, audiobooks, and especially the different communities in which you can grow those understandings.
The habits—With needs and interests in mind, and resources at your disposal to help build knowledge and skills, you should now consider the different habits that you can cultivate in your life that will lead you to continually abide in the Word. Remember, abiding in something is not just occasional, but it involves habits of mind, of speech, of action. Will you set aside times during the day, in the morning or evening, to read Scripture or spend time with your resources that help you live the Christian life? What about your prayer life? How will you remind yourself at different times of the day, at work, at home, in the car, to recall God’s Word? What groups or communities will you join in your congregation that will help build the habit of accountability? Are there any disciplines of service to others that you can start routinely doing that will help you abide in a particular teaching of God’s Word? Consider these things.
Enough for Now
There is a lot to unpack and consider here. In the next post, I will finish off the definition by thinking about what it means to abide in God’s Word in a variety of ways throughout life. That said, remember that simple is not always easy but in this case it is best. What can you do right now to actively cultivate the attitudes, understandings, and habits of abiding in God’s Word in your life or in the lives of those around you?
Find more simple steps to mature in your walk and nurture the faith of others.