I recently finished discipleship and what I learned is basically everything I know about walking with the Lord. This is my response reflecting back on how my life has changed since going through the Cost of Discipleship class last May.
I got saved when I was nearly 21 years old. Prior to that, I think I had been to church maybe twice in my whole life. My mother taught me the story of Adam and Eve when I was young and probably sometime after first grade I stopped thinking too seriously about the Bible or God. I didn’t think either was anything I needed to be concerned about on a day to day basis. Probably sometime around my early teenage years, I began to develop this idea that I needed to be the absolute best in everything I did and that I needed to be in control/in charge of any situation that I was involved in. For example, in middle school, I was the captain of the school basketball team, baseball team, track team, the editor of the school yearbook, and the president of the middle school. I’m not saying this to brag, and honestly looking back on how much I sought out to be in charge, is pretty embarrassing for me. I make this point to illustrate the degree to which I wanted to be in a position of control. This mindset, which initially I think I developed because I enjoyed seeing my parents proud of me, sort of turned into a compulsive personality trait where I felt pleased with myself if I worked hard and overcame challenges and obstacles in my path.
If I’m being completely honest, there were times where conversations of “God” (Christian or otherwise) would come up in social settings post-high school, and I would feel accomplished if I was able to convince someone or a group of people that there wasn’t any reason to rely on a “God” to get you through life’s tough times. I would argue that the only thing someone could do to get out of a difficult situation was by their own power and self-will. Eventually, I would meet a woman of faith, who is now my wife, and through her prayers and by the grace of God, I would be shown otherwise.
My walk with Christ started abruptly after being confronted with a situation that would prove just how little my power and self-will could do to get me through a truly challenging situation. I give praise to God for that time in my life. Even after receiving my salvation at this time though, I didn’t have any sort of foundation to build my faith upon after my acceptance of Christ. This meant that any information I had about being a Christian came from myself and a few other examples I was able to pull from. Ultimately, nothing was set in stone about how a Christian should behave, from my perspective. As you could guess, this made me a weak example of a Christian and even though I had accepted Christ, my life didn’t look any different from anyone else living their life on their own terms.
Before coming to Midtown, my wife and I attended a different church in Kansas City right after I got saved. We were consistently attending for about a year and a half, but we never grew in our faith during our attendance there. It got to a point where I remember thinking to myself on multiple occasions, that I did not know what being a Christian was supposed to look like, but I did know that I was not enabled to do that where I was at at that time. Looking forward three years, I’m nearly 25 and my fiancé and I end up at Midtown Baptist Temple after our former high school art teacher and his wife agreed to take us through premarital counseling. We asked Mr. Briscoe (that’s who he was to me at the time) sort of on a whim, knowing that he was somehow involved with a local church in KC. During this 6-month period, we became faithful members of the church. After getting married in June, carrying on from our premarital, I was able to enter into a discipleship relationship with Brandon (he told me to stop calling him Mr. Briscoe a while back).
At this point, I’m a 25-year-old who got saved nearly four years ago who knows I’ve been sitting around for close to half a decade not living my life as I’m called to. I knew this and it is something that had been frustrating me for years at this point. The problem still remained: I knew my life was supposed to look different as a Christian and mine didn’t. But since I had been saved, no one was able to explain to me where or how those differences should take fruition in my life. What I really needed was for someone to sit down with me and teach me the principles of God’s rule and to become a part of a church that believes in the true investment of God’s word into its members through discipleship. This ended up being the answer to my problem.
I believe this is very important to note because in the church age we live in there is not an abundance of church bodies making the effort to teach every member how to minister. How are people supposed to live out the Great Commission without being able to explain simple biblical principles to someone who has never opened the Bible?
Another thing to note is something that Van Sneed, a discipleship team leader at MBT, taught about in one of his sermons earlier this year, which focused on the fact that the things we know and understand as followers of Christ are the things that change us. Van’s point hit very close to home for me since I had been saved. After accepting the gift of salvation, there was no undeniable change in my life. There was a faint feeling of knowing I had done something life-changing. However, simply attending church on Sunday and getting a weekly charge to “live life for Jesus” absent the details was not challenging me to be changed through God’s rule over my life. This was the antithesis of Van’s message: what someone doesn’t know cannot change them.
Like many Christians do, I quickly became lazy, bored, and unaffected by my new-found faith. But after completing discipleship, and even at a more micro level, after finishing each individual lesson in discipleship, I was left with a new understanding of what it means and looks like to follow Christ. In addition to this, I can say with confidence and as living proof that these are the things that change a person. We can see this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Van’s sermon taught just that: God’s word will change you and embracing those changes on an individual level is how souls get saved through the Lord’s disciples.
If I had to give someone advice about how they should enter their discipleship relationship, this is what I would say: Go into each lesson with your guard down and be predetermined to be honest with your discipler. Furthermore, accept God’s words and lessons in your life and allow them to change your character to be more Christlike. Before you know it, you will be established in Worship, the Word of God, the Local Church, and in Ministry. Also, pulling from one of Pastor Briscoe’s recent sermons, the person you are paired up with for D1 is someone God has given the capacity to unlock the gospel in YOUR life. You can either accept or resist what God has for you through discipleship. In Acts 10 we see Cornelius, someone young but obedient in his faith, who submits to Peter, the person God did provide to increase both truth and faith in Cornelius’ life. From this, Cornelius is an example of someone with the right heart attitude to be discipled. And from his example, let us all be inspired to be made new creatures in Christ.
All in all, completing discipleship has provided greater faith and truth in my life and my walk with Christ. And again, as Pastor Briscoe taught, faith and truth are compounding agents that better enable us to share our truth and faith with others, which is the mission we all share in this life.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Nick Hatton is a member at Midtown Baptist Temple and is a part of C&YA. He serves on the New Members and Audio Visual teams. He is also involved in the Grandview mens’ Bible study.