Intentional discipleship is surrendering to the Father’s will and walking in Jesus’ presence.
So how do we live the life of an intentional disciple? How do we stay connected to Jesus when he is not bodily present with us like he was with his first disciples? The answer is the spiritual discipline, or practices. If you read last week’s post, it may seem like I am writing in circles, but I am trying to make a subtle but important distinction in the way we see view the disciplines. A spiritual practice is anything that connects us to the vine, keeps us connected, or identifies and roots out obstacles to connectedness.
The practices themselves are not discipleship. The practices do not change us. What they do is connect us to the vine, ushering us into his presence. They connect us to the source of transformation. Reading Scripture is one such practice. When we engage Scripture, we open ourselves up to experience transformation in our lives, but it is not the reading that transforms us, it is the connection to the vine that the reading promotes that brings transformation into our lives.
This gives us a different perspective of the disciplines. We don’t do them because we should – though we should. We don’t do them for transformation – though they lead to transformation. We engage in spiritual practices because they connect us to the vine, and God uses that connection to transform us. In other words, the disciplines cultivate the characteristics of connectedness and make us aware of and help root out characteristics that obstruct connectedness.
The transformation we experience in our connection to the vine is not an instantaneous experience. It is an ongoing process. This is why we hear people refer to the Christian life as a journey. There is no magic pill or six easy steps to transformation. It is only abiding in his presence that brings real, honest, and true transformation. The point of intentional discipleship is not to act a certain way or follow a certain set of guidelines. The point is to become the kind of people who act a certain way. I don’t want to be someone who tries really hard to not sin. I want to be the kind of person whose desires and inner direction keeps me off the dark path of sin.