God has a way of asking us to do things that are part of our transformation process. Behavior is not always for behavior’s sake. Behavior is often for being’s sake. Read Leviticus sometime and try to find a rule or two. Obedience was not just to see if people could remember and follow the rules. Obedience was about holiness and distinctiveness as God’s people – it was formative more so than just punitive.
In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 we are told that a disciple is someone who is baptized and who is taught to obey the teachings of Jesus.
To what end do we obey the teachings of Jesus? Because he said so? Well, that would be a start but it wouldn’t be a good end.
God wants us to obey what Jesus taught because our obedience impacts and influences something deeper – our being.
We aren’t “doings.” We are “Beings.”
That is a very important difference. Too often we get caught up on labeling and assessing the value of our doings over the value of our being. Would we rather be a highly successful scoundrel or a person of low position but impeccable character? In today’s influencer, social media culture, many would opt for the first.
Who we are matters a great deal. Character matters. Character is formed over the course of time and is influenced by our behavior.
Yes we want to obey Jesus, that is what disciples do. Why? Because he is King and he said so…takes us a little ways down the road. But ultimately it is for our inner formation. To live a life obedient to the teachings of Jesus opens up new vistas for us. It is living life to the full. It is a life engaged in the transformative work of the Holy Spirit.
Too often we are focused so much on our being perfected “in heaven” that we neglect the very biblical idea that God has already started that transformation process NOW!
As we make disciples and we find workable processes that are simple and repeatable, let’s keep the end goal in mind. Disciples are little versions of the one they follow, growing into big versions – not just in actions but in thought, mind, attitude, image, and being.
Jesus is not after box checkers to be box checkers. He is looking for those who will follow him into a new way of living and being.
As we disciple people let us keep in mind what we are really doing so that we can help others in their formation. Part of that formation will come as we walk and act and live and obey – the obedience opens us up and makes us pliable for the work of the Spirit to continue to shape us more and more into the likeness of Christ.
This is important work. Let us know in the comments what you are doing to make disciples where you live!