So what is the motivation for and outcome of choosing into this life that Jesus has made possible? Jesus simply puts it this way as recorded in Matthew 4:17; “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near.” In other words, we repent in order to position ourselves to experience more and more of the life that Jesus has made possible. There is nothing like a life being lived out under the functional reign and rule of God, a life where God is fully having his way in every arena of our existence. Like Dave Ferguson of Community Christian Church, I like to call this kind of person who is focused and moving in this direction a “3C Disciple.” This is a person who is Centered on Jesus, Connected to supportive friends and Cooperating in the mission of God. Centered. Connected. Cooperating. A tangible commitment to these three realities is bound to produce a fruitful life. It is a life that is focused on God, on one another and on what God is doing in the world today. I believe the testimony of Scripture reveals that engaging a 3C Disciple lifestyle is what every follower of Jesus really needs in order to live the life that Jesus has made possible. To this end I often pray for my church family, “Lord, make what we really need become what we want, and what we want what we really need.”
Immediately after Jesus reveals that we should repent because of the Kingdom that he has placed within our reach (Matthew 4:17), Jesus begins calling people into that 3C Disciple lifestyle that will position them to experience all that God has made possible under his reign and rule.
First, Jesus calls us to Center our lives on Him – As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him (Matthew 4:18-20).
To experience the life that Jesus made possible we are going to need to center our lives on Jesus. And to have our lives centered on Jesus, we will need to cultivate a lifestyle of repentance, of turning and returning to God and living life under his reign and rule. We were created for a life where Jesus is at the center, where we do not merely visit his presence every once in a while, but we live in a constant awareness of his love, truth, presence and power. This is a life where we abide with God (John 15:5), where we “practice his presence” as the famed monastic Brother Lawrence coined it. For this to be a functional reality we must create space in our daily routines where we can “turn to God” for the sake of gaining and maintaining spiritual focus and renewal. In these precious times of solitude we can converse with God in prayer, reflect on Scripture and experience his presence. But we must also learn to carry the richness of our solitude into the predictable rhythms as well as the unexpected interruptions of our daily life. More on this in a later chapter on making space for God.
Secondly, Jesus calls us to Connect with supportive friends – Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him (Matthew 4:21, 22).
One thing for sure, to be a disciple who fruitfully abides with Jesus you must commit to doing so with others committed to doing the same. If asked, I believe most people would say that they would like to center their lives on Jesus as a sustained reality. But because of our weaknesses and the many distractions in this life, this is far from a simple matter. To remain centered on Jesus we need others to encourage us and hold us accountable in very practical and consistent ways. And for this to happen there has got be some people in our lives with whom we are tangibly available and vulnerable. The writer to the Hebrews stresses this point when he writes; “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” Every disciple of Jesus needs friends where this verse is lived out if we really want to live the life that Jesus has made possible. That is why Jesus calls us to repent, to intentionally make space in our busy lives where we can authentically and unhurriedly connect with supportive friends. We must gather and connect with others in order to encourage (put courage in) one another to keep believing even when it is hard to believe, to keep showing up even when it would be easier to quit, and to keep deciding to obey even after feeling ashamed for failing somehow. Again, there will be a later chapter dedicated to the critical subject of connecting in community.
Thirdly, Jesus calls us to Cooperate in the mission of God – Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23).
Not only does Jesus invite us to follow him, and to do so with others following him, he also invites us to join him in what he is saying and doing in the world today. Like Jesus’ first followers, Jesus has invited us to repent, to reposition our lives so as to be in the middle of what he is doing. As I remember Dallas Willard saying, “A disciple is one who is learning to say and do what Jesus would if he were in our place.” The journey of following Jesus with others includes the adventure of participating in the mission of God. The moment that we were forgiven of our sins and then filled with his Holy Spirit, we became members of his Body on earth commissioned to say and do what Jesus desires to be said and done in the world in which we live. And until the believer both appreciates and embraces this reality, he or she will not be fully experiencing the life that Jesus has made possible. We certainly are not all shaped for the same role in God’s mission, but every true believer has been uniquely made on purpose for a purpose that contributes to the advance God’s Kingdom. The sad fact is that if we don’t repent and turn to Jesus to have this God-shaped need in our life for adventure filled by cooperating in the mission of God, we will seek to fill the void with something else. This heart felt void will not go unattended! When someone does not feel alive on the inside, engaging in crazy and even dangerous things can begin to make sense. But rather than embracing some risky adventure like a marital affair, Jesus invites us to join him in his epic campaign to announce and demonstrate that his Kingdom has been placed within our reach. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a friend you have ministered to enter into relationship with Jesus, or receive divine healing or freedom from demonic captivity.
This is the life that Jesus has made possible, a life that is centered on Jesus, connected to supportive friends, and cooperating in the mission of God. It is a fruitful and fulfilling life lived under the functional rule of God. It is a life that Jesus has placed within our reach. Therefore, it only makes sense to repent and believe this good news!
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about this post!