Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling. 1 Timothy 1:5-6
This verse lays out how God has been changing my heart since I committed myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In living out my faith, God has challenged me in the sincerity of my heart attitude. Without this sincerity, my life can easily be led astray and drawn into vain pursuits. But through discipleship, I have learned that Christ is my center and my life.
I had personal goals
I received Christ as my saviour when I was 7 years old, and 13 years later God has continuously turned my world upside down. Prior to going to Midtown Baptist Temple, I had grown up at a church in Springfield, Missouri. The church was wonderful and invested in me greatly. I was growing in my faith and even began to pick up ministry leadership. In my teenage years, the youth group had the motto, “Love God, love people, and make disciples.” I knew I was called to be a fisher of men and wanted to submit to that motto. At that time, I was going to church service, was involved in Bible studies, and was serving in ministry. I thought that as long as I was invested in those things, I fit the equation needed to be a disciple and make disciples. I loved God and understood my need for him, but I had personal goals that I expected God to fulfill as long as I was faithful to the church. I was built up in pride and motivated by the culture of the church, rather than being a true disciple of Christ. This led to holes in my commitment to Christ which stemmed from not understanding how to truly have a relationship with the Lord. I was about religion and pleasing the elders at my church, rather than having a relationship with Jesus.
I lacked intimacy with the Lord, which quickly hindered my faith, growth, and unity with the body. I slowly made small compromises between my faith and the world in high school, which added up to living in pursuit of an ungodly lifestyle. Those little compromises resulted in mocking a relationship with the Lord and doing anything I could to run away from it. In an effort to run away, I decided that I wanted to go to school outside of Springfield, and away from the church; I moved to Kansas City for college in Fall 2015. From move-in day for college, I was desperate to find identity in being wild and a stereotypical party girl. My flesh loved it. Meanwhile, God was making it clear to me that I could only find identity in my relationship with him. I persisted and quenched the Spirit. Because of this persistence, I went through a series of unfortunate events that brought me, humbled, to the Lord’s feet, crying out for a relationship with him again. However, due to my lack of understanding of how to have a right, consistent relationship with him, I was lost in how to have unity with him again. God used multiple people in my life through mutual friends and prayer that led me back to him and the body at MBT. He orchestrated everything perfectly.
I understood that being a disciple is a lifestyle
From my first Sunday at MBT, everything I heard was about discipleship. I was familiar with the concept from my church back home; however, I thought the intense focus on it at MBT was strange. In my flesh, I wanted to critique the structure and say that this is too organized. What I noticed, though, was that here at MBT so many people were radical in their faith, and it was authentic, which made my critique invalid. They had a sincere love for the Lord, and I could feel their virtuous hearts. From observing discipleship at MBT, I understood that being a disciple is a lifestyle, which led me to understand that I was never a disciple of Christ growing up. I was blindly fixed on figuring out how to integrate Christ into my life, rather than live out the fact that Christ is my life.
When I took the Cost of Discipleship class, there were two passages that the Lord kept putting on my heart. I was excited to learn more about becoming a disciple of Christ but felt a resistance in my flesh to commit.
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Mark 8:34-36
From this passage, I understood that being a disciple is not about me and what I want but that it is about laying my life down to submit to Christ. I have to die to self. However, this sounded difficult and my instinct in my flesh is to create an equation on how I can make that work. The Lord showed me Matthew 11:28-30:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.
There is no special equation. My yoke simply has to be Christ’s. Allowing Christ to be the center of my life will give me peace; I do not need to give in to the resistance of my flesh.
Being discipled returned me to my first love
Following the class, I was paired with Connor Stubblefield for discipleship. Initially, I was anxious about this relationship because I knew that I needed to change a lot in my life, and now I had accountability. However, Connor met me right where I was and we moved on from there. It was not about a program or lessons, but about laying down a foundation for living as a disciple. It was about building my relationship with the Lord, developing a passion for the gospel, and growing in virtue. God used this time to reveal the design he has for my life and what he desires of my heart. It was not easy. I had to die to many things and the pursuits that my flesh cleaved to. Through this relationship, however, I had guidance and counsel in how God was changing my life, and in how to keep God as my center. There were times of challenge and frustration, but also the utmost joy. Being discipled returned me to my first love.
Discipleship not only laid out a foundation for understanding how to walk and live out my faith; it also unveiled several doctrinal mistruths that hindered my growth in the past. By overcoming these, I was able to grow in my intimacy with the Lord as well as know how to actually study the Bible. Discipleship has held me accountable and keeps me in unity with the body. My discipleship relationship continues, and it is a blessing to be able to be a disciple of Christ and to have Connor to guide and equip me in my walk. Discipleship is not a “checklist” process, and I continue to grow and learn as a disciple and from my discipler daily. God has been doing a tremendous work in my heart, and it is a privilege that I get to continue to follow wherever he leads.