I wanted to begin blogging about the “markers” of discipleship the Asbury UMC Church Unique team prayerfully named. We have a list of five indicators of a faithful disciple — someone who is truly experiencing the HOPE of Jesus Christ in their life and helping others do the same (see the list here). It is not unique to Asbury and it is not exhaustive. It is, however, the image of faithfulness we have at Asbury and so I wanted to share my thoughts about these.
The first one on the list (the order is not important) is this:
Pursues faithful relationships with God and others
If we are followers of Jesus, what the Bible refers to as disciples, then faithful relationship with God is a given. But, Jesus also said, “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other” (John 13:35). Having close and deep relationships with other followers of Jesus is an essential part of the new life we’re called to. It is for our benefit as well as their’s (this idea also coincides with the fact that “relationships” were named as one of the top values for the people of Asbury.)
The more interesting word, for me, in this mark of discipleship is the word “pursues”. I love that this is the word we chose to use. It reminds us that both our relationship with God and our relationship with others should be intentional. We should make an effort to keep our connection to God and others. We should make an effort so the relationship has an opportunity to grow.
To pursue something also means we believe there is something to be obtained. In the case of our relationships it means we believe we can love more and love more deeply. In both our connection to God and to each other the most significant resource we have for pursuing the relationship is time. in regard to God, it is time spent in the Word, in Scripture. It is time spent in prayer, not just talking but listening. It is time spent reaching out to help those in need. In our relationship with other believers it is time spent together. It is time spent asking each other “How is it with your soul? What are the painful parts of life and where do you find you greatest joy?” It is time spent having a meal or watching a sporting event, or going to a museum. But, again, it is intentional.
I have to admit, I have been better at pursuing a faithful relationship with God than with others. I have not been intentional in making and deepening my connection with others. Having work on the team that parsed out this mark of discipleship I began to realize the only way that would change is if I did something. So I did. I ask a friend to meet me for breakfast. We had worked together on various things within the church but that was about all. So, I made an intentional effort and set up a time for us to meet. There was nothing spectacular about the meal or our conversation, but we did develop a better relationship. Just to take the time to connect and converse makes a difference.
My next goal is to connect with someone serving in ministry who is a dedicated follower of Jesus (and no, the two do not always go hand-in-hand). I hope to find someone who lives in a deep mature relationship with God. I hope to find someone who will help me deepen my relationship with Jesus just as they have. But, even then I must be intentional in my efforts to connect and develop that relationship.
Did you hear some of the words? A disciple has deep relationships – with God and others. They are intentional in their pursuit, and they are willing to put forth real effort in that pursuit. They are willing to give the gift of time to the other person. Intentional efforts with significant time commitments – that is the formula for pursuing faithful relationships with God and others.
So, how are you doing?
How does your discipleship measure up to this standard?
What might you be able to do to pursue a faithful relationship with God and others?
Feel free to leave a response and share your experience.
Holy high-five to you,