The Disciple’s Journey
“We’re all on a journey” is a phrase that I have been hearing quite a bit lately. A few well-meaning, godly people have said it to me in an effort to add some perspective to my rather “intense” personality. Many more have uttered it as an excuse so that they can indulge there flesh just awhile longer. Regardless of how the idea is conveyed to me, I must admit that it is a legitimate scriptural concept when you are a disciple of Christ.
We are ALL on a journey … I am … you are … all future disciples of Jesus will be on a journey. As we travel our respective roads, we SHOULD all of have one goal …. to imitate our Messiah (1 John 2:6). As we draw closer to Him and become more mature, this road grows narrower and narrower.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
A sign of maturity is to think of our Journey as a “press”, which requires sacrifice and effort. It is a relinquishing of our rights, our passions and our “stuff.”
The false prophets and teachers would have you to believe that, as you grow closer to God, you will experience more “freedom”. But what is freedom? Ask Jesus what kind of freedom He experienced as He grew closer to His goal. Ask Peter and Paul.
The True Freedom experienced by Jesus, Peter and Paul was the death of their flesh, not it’s indulgence. The True Freedom they experienced was the Freedom from this world and it’s system (both spiritual and natural), not the liberty to experience it’s temptations.
It’s Cute When the Baby Makes a Mess
The following comparison may be rather crude to some of you (and I apologize ahead of time, if it is) but I believe that it expresses the Father’s viewpoint rather well.
Sinning is very similar to pooping our pants.
Come on, don’t cringe … let’s think about it for just a few minutes.
When we were babies, this happened quite frequently … in fact, several times a day. After this mortifying event occurred, the only thing that we could do is just sit there and cry about it because, after all, we were babies … what else could we do? Very soon after hearing our desperate plea for help, one of our parents (most likely our mother) would come in and change the diaper, gently reassuring us that everything was alright, maybe even cooing and joking about it.
Can you hear it in your mind? … “Oh Lookie! The baby made a poo poo! Your so cute! Oh yes, you are!” And we would lay there on the changing table, smiling, knowing that mom (or dad) had it all taken care of. They would be there for us to fulfill our every desire. All we had to do was cry (or scream).
Wasn’t that a wonderful life?
That is what a “baby christian’s” life is like. Even though they frequently sin, the Father treats them with an abundance of patience and mercy, with little or no consequence. The Father knows that they are only babies … their knowledge and ability is limited and they are very tender at that stage in their development.
As believers, we should mimic this behavior with “baby christians”. If we abuse, or are harsh to, spiritual infants, God sees us in the same way that we see a child abuser.
Dirty Diaper? Are You Kidding Me?
Now bear with me. Imagine a scenario where your teenager walks up to you, looks you right in the eyes … and then proceeds to poop his/her pants. What would you feel?
Not only that, but after your beloved child performs the deed, he/she has the audacity to sit down in the middle of the mess and start crying and screaming for you to help. Would you act the same as when they were babies?
- Would you coo and giggle about it?
- Would you say, “Oh Lookie! You made a poopie!”
- Would you pat him on the head and say, “It’s OK Junior, I’ll go get you another diaper. Just go lay down on the changing table and I’ll clean you up!”
… I would hope not ….
If I may be so bold, I believe you would feel utter revulsion and disgust! I mean, this poo poo is no longer “baby” poo poo!
I would hope that there would be a consequence for Junior’s actions. Junior knows full well that you don’t poop your pants, he’s gone PAST that stage.
OK, I know this scenario seems a “tad” overboard, but I believe it’s what the Father feels as we grow older in our journey towards becoming like Messiah. These VERY basic transgressions must become fewer and farther between … eventually being eliminated altogether.
As we grow even older in the Lord and take on the responsibilities of a leader and/or minister, we should have certain strengths that REQUIRE us to overcome certain sins. 1 Timothy 3 lists out these “bare minimum” requirements:
- one wife (this requires a leader/minister to overcome lust and infidelity)
- temperate (this requires a leader/minister to overcome anger)
- rules his house well (this requires a leader/minister to overcome pride)
- submissive children (this requires a leader/minister to discipline his children and provide an appropriate example)
- not violent (this requires a leader/minister to overcome aggression)
- not greedy (this requires a leader/minister to overcome the love of money)
- not a novice (this requires a leader/minister study and gain experience to show themselves approved)
- not covetous (this requires a leader/minister to overcome materialism)
There are more strengths mentioned in 1 Timothy 3, but these are the ones stood out to me. According to this chapter, ministers, or people who aspire to ministry, need to have these sins CONQUERED in their life.
I don’t say this as one who is pointing the finger, nor am I in a place of pride, because truthfully I still fall short in a few of these areas. It is simply what the Word says, and the church has paid dearly for ignoring or “winking at” these requirements.
One of the main reasons why there are so many prophets and pastors failing miserably before our very eyes is because they were put in a position of leadership/ministry BEFORE they even considered conquering these sins. They didn’t believe that there was a cost when they signed up for their position … and those who placed them in that position never told them that a cost existed.
Let’s Talk About Counting the Cost
The idea of being on a journey closely parallels running a race. Paul said:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Has any of you ever watched those viral videos where marathon runners completely, um …. “lose their control” during a race? Well, don’t Google it … it is a sight you will want to forget (and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to). These kind of embarrassing events happen because, in one form or another, the runner didn’t take the necessary precautions before the race.
They didn’t count the cost.
Jesus says of those wanting to be His disciples:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
Paul also spoke of the cost associated with following the Messiah.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
So, as you can see, if we strive to complete the journey or win the race, it will cost us everything. But the true seekers are willing to pay the price. Are you among their number? The rest of this post is aimed at those who are willing to pay the price.
To Those Willing…
We are all on this journey/race together. Although many of us are taking different paths in our quest to imitate our Master, His Truth (if we allow it) will draw us together! Whatever happens, let us not get weary or bow our wills to the compromise of this age – we will be essentially pooping our pants right in front of our Father. Whether our relationship to Him is a Journey or a Race, may we all finish with clean underwear!
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
I’m looking forward to completing this journey/race without shame. How about you?