Friday, June 24, 2016

Next Steps in Discipleship

The photo above was made from the Mount of Olives. From that vantage point, you can see the walled city of Jerusalem. It's a beautiful view and one Jesus surveyed many times from his mountain-top prayer retreat. I imagine he spent time talking with Our Father about His progress with His recalcitrant people.

I wonder if there was even a sliver of hope that mankind might embrace the Messiah and turn back to God. Was there a teeny-tiny chance that Jesus could avoid the cross? I consider my own bent toward sin and know that there was not.

The Cross was Jesus' "next step" in the redemption of mankind. The Ten Commandments hadn't saved us. Jesus wrapped in flesh didn't save us. Not alone, it didn't. The next step was for our Flesh-Wrapped God to sacrifice Himself, and conquer sin and death on the cross. It was why He came, and He knew, all along, that it must be done.

That "next step" must have weighed heavy on His heart, every day, as He walked and talked, ate and laughed with His disciples. Yet, He did it. 

He loved us despite the fact that loving us meant He would suffer unbearable pain, die an ignominious death, fight our most impossible battle. 

He did it because there was no other way to save us. He did it because of what was on the other side of that terrible step. Redemption. Freedom. Hope.

My pastor has been preaching a series on "next steps" that have focused on taking the "next step" in our faith. Beginning a daily time of Bible study. A more focused prayer life. Joining a small group for study. It was designed to help us take one step closer to Christ, to deepen our faith.

I, who "journal" every day on the blog, was challenged to pick up my pen and paper journal to begin "journaling" again. When I opened the journal I first began using in 2011, I was surprised to see that one of my first steps toward a daily blog was taken with that little pink journal. Handwritten daily writings were a discipline that made computer-written daily writings much easier.

At the time, it was a little step for me. I have a big stack of journals that have been filled over the years, but I had neglected that discipline for quite some time. In 2011, resuming it was my next step. More than 460,000 views later, I'm glad I did. 

The Christian life is not intended to be a stagnant list of do's and don'ts. It's a journey of discipleship, of becoming more like Jesus. He, who took one next step after another on the journey to the cross, deserves no less than a steady progression in our faith.

We will never have a "next step" as difficult as the cross, but we will have next steps that take us outside our comfort zone, challenge us, maybe even frighten us. 

What's your next step? 

Participation in organized Bible study? An accountability partner? Daily prayer and meditation time? Volunteering with a local ministry effort? Sharing your faith with someone who needs Christ?

Today, let's ask God what that next step of faith should be, and take it. 

The only thing that compares with the joy of salvation is the utter delight of daily abandoning ourselves to the will and leading of God. The life of a disciple is the best life of all. Take another step and see. 

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes  to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:27 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's blog post by Robby Rowland: Comforted to Comfort
#disciple #Jesus #Christianliving