“Speaking the truth in love,
may grow up in all things
into Him who is the head – Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
From time to time, lobsters have to leave their shells in order to grow. They need the shell to protect them from being torn apart, yet when they grow, the old shell must be abandoned. If they did not abandon it, the old shell would soon become their prison – and finally their casket.
The tricky part for the lobster is the brief period of time between when the old shell is discarded and the new one is formed. During that terribly vulnerable period, the transition must be scary to the lobster. Currents gleefully cartwheel them from coral to kelp. Hungry schools of fish are ready to make them a part of their food chain. For awhile, at least, that old shell must look pretty good.
We are not so different from lobsters. To change and grow, we must sometimes shed our shells – a structure, a framework – we’ve depended on. Discipleship means being so committed to Christ that when he bids us to follow, we will change, risk, grow, and leave our “shells” behind.
Regardless of age and level of maturity, this is a call we all must answer. Dietrick Bonhoeffer, author of The Cost of Discipleship said, “When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to His person.” This is the essence of Biblical discipleship, attaching oneself to another – learning in close quarters.
Christ calls a man. The call bids him to come and die. This is Biblical Christianity. Bonhoeffer says, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship. Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” He goes on to say, “Discipleship without Jesus Christ is a way of our own choosing. It may be the ideal way. It may even lead to martyrdom, but it is devoid of all promise. Jesus will certainly reject it.”
Discipleship cannot truly exist outside of the context of Christian community. Christ’s intention is that we become wholly transformed. In order for this to happen, He more often than not chooses to use people in the process of our formation. When we find ourselves outside the context of intimate, truth telling relationships, we will find ourselves in some form of spiritual stagnation.
Is there anyone in your life right now that has permission to ask you the difficult questions?
• How’s your relationship with God?
• How’s your relationship with your spouse?
• How’s your relationship with your vocation/job?
• How’s your relationship(s) with the people you work most frequently with? (the tough one’s)
Do you have someone that’s mentoring/discipling you?
Who are you pouring yourself into and mentoring/discipling?
Everybody’s Normal Until You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg