Here’s a picture that’s been coming together recently. It will take a long time to fully flesh out, but it seems worthwhile to start describing now. It grows upon the “Definition of Discipleship” that I’ve written elsewhere, but expands on one’s experience with God and how that may work out in someone’s life.
Earlier, I suggested thinking of discipleship as learning to hear and obey the Lord. Lately I’ve been reflecting on the idea of “witness”, and have begun to understand that seeing the Lord at work in our life, and the lives of those around us, is also a real way to experience Him. And we can follow up on that by telling others.
So we have these four elements: Hearing from God, obeying Him, seeing Him at work, and telling others. We can elaborate on these, and as we do, other familiar spiritual paths become even more clear. I’m still exploring this space, so comments are more than welcome!
It starts by seeking the Lord. This is something we are exhorted, perhaps even commanded, to do in Scripture. It is a deliberate activity, a calling out for His presence. We must seek Him and His Kingdom first.
But approaching the Lord needs to be done from a place of holiness and purity; we are to be holy as He is holy. We must also have hearts of worship, and love Him will all our being. Seeking the Lord may involve religious activities, but these are not the end of seeking. They are a means to transform our minds.
These things are part of seeking Him. He promises that if we diligently seek Him, He will be found. We will experience Him both by hearing from Him and by seeing Him at work in the world. Seeking Him properly requires both eyes that see, and ears that hear.
Let’s consider each of these a little more:
God talks to His children. This is a clear teaching in Scripture. We need to deliberately learn to hear Him, to remove the walls that keep us from hearing His voice. But we can rest in the truth that He wants us communing with Him. As much as we need to talk to Him, we also need to listen.
Listening to the Lord helps us discern His will, and to know Him better. But true listening implies a response. Just as faith without works is dead, listening without action is fruitless.
When we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us. Sometimes He will work in ways that are unmistakably Him, such as through the miraculous. Sometimes He works in ways that require eyes of faith to see, like that unexpected coincidence that clearly wasn’t just coincidental. As we learn more of His ways, we may see Him at work in more and more subtle ways. And we may begin to see invitations to join Him.
A key aspect of our faith is to proclaim the greatness of God. This is both an Old and New Testament concept. Ultimately, our telling of what we know of God is one important thing that will bring people to Him. Confronted by His righteousness and love, our prayer is that people will realize their need for a Savior, and want to enter His Kingdom. This is an important part of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, the good news of God’s domain.
These four aspects of our faith walk are related, and their relationships can be illustrated by this diagram:
There are additional insights in the relationship between hearing and obeying, and seeing and telling.
Hearing from God and acting on His directives is obedience. One of the primary directives in Scripture is that we walk according to His commandments. God is only good, loves us more than we can imagine, and has the power to create universes. All we need to do is trust Him, and walk according to what He says. This may not come easy, and will often mean walking in ways we do not like or understand. But it never means regret.
On the other hand, the action of seeing the Lord at work in our lives and then telling others, is our witness. As we experience His power and activity in our lives, we can testify to the reality of our risen Lord.
These relationships are two important aspects of the Christian’s walk. But the two paths are related to each other, also.
Sometimes, the Lord will speak of something that is to be shared for edification. This is prophecy. Rather than being limited to special people, it is something to be sought by all. Also, we are to grow in Christ-likeness. So when we see God at work and do the same ourselves, that is imitation. In fact, we should end up imitating Him more and more as we grow to become more and more like Him.
Writing this out brought to mind many things I’ve written before, and suggests new areas to explore. Perhaps this will come together in a consistent framework. Time will tell.
Yes, this makes a lot of sense to me. Reminds me a lot of Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God.” When I first read what he had to say on this subject I had no context for it (because I had never been taught that God is still speaking to His children). It took me a while to work thru what this would look and feel like. What you have written here is very much what I came to see it as.
Thank you for putting this into words!
Thanks, Samuel. Nice to know it makes sense to someone else. I think it still needs to be fleshed out a bit, but it’s a start.