I believe being a disciple of Jesus is liberating. Not the cheap, easy kind of discipleship that offers lots of blessing with no sacrifice or accountability. I'm speaking about the simple-but-deep, lay-down-your-life kind of discipleship. Such discipleship is not for those who want to follow the latest spiritual fad, chase the newest/hottest experience being promoted on Christian radio and TV, nor am I speaking about find a quick, no-sacrfice solution to all our problems. Simple Jesus-style discipleship is for those who want genuine passion with depth in their walk with Jesus. Sally and I believe in that depth is found in the simplicity of a life lived 100% for Christ. Many Christian leaders have traded that simplicity and depth for hype, formulaic type programs, even selling the gospel for a donation. That is not what we see in Jesus as we read about Him in the gospels, nor is it what motivated the early believers, or Paul the apostle:
Acts 2:46 "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart..."
2Corinthians 1:12 "For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you..."
2Corinthians 11:3 "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted away from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Loving Jesus, loving the lost, and loving each other. Simple, but deep. You can experience these truths quite quickly in one way, but spend a lifetime exploring them in great depth if you choose to.
The loss of simplicity in a complex, busy, hectic world is one of the major reasons why our lives lose meaning and purpose, why our walk with Jesus grows stale. Sadly, many church leaders imitate the consumer, "order one today for this low price" by offering everything for nothing. Maybe they they believe they have to compete with other churches, or "make something happen" to attract a crowd. In doing so, they lose genuine passion and their integrity. It is easy to get diverted and distracted from the simple beauty of a growing, contagious, deep, sometimes mysterious, but always compelling and costly relationship with Jesus.
Sally and I believe, with all our hearts, that if we follow Jesus, if we embrace true discipleship, we will grow deeper in Christ and experience Damascus Road kinds of God-encounters with God, personally and in our ministry.
We know God changes people, but we know as well that there is a price to pay. The price for Paul was to humble himself before God, turn from his sinful ways, and acknowledge how wrong he had been. If we want what Paul had, we will have to pay the price Paul paid.
We are seeing and experiencing these type of God encounters regularly here in Cape Town. Let me share about such encounter, told by one of the members of All Nations, Allison:
Gangsters love their guns. So when one of their guns is gone, they will do anything to get it back. So what’s a gangsters’ girlfriend to do if her notorious gangster boyfriend and a rival gangster are fighting over a gun? A good girlfriend will take the gun, run, and hide it ... even if she’s seven months pregnant and has a three-year-old at her side.
This was Jackie’s life before Christ. A life of drugs, sneaking drugs into prison, gangs, stabbings, fights, tattoos, running from the police, guns, and murder.
... I started a friendship with Jackie after her second child was born. Although Jackie was one tough cookie, I continued to visit her and her baby ... even though Jackie and I couldn’t have been more different, we developed an awesome friendship based on some pretty deep heart-to-heart chats. Chats about boyfriends, drugs, father wounds, past abuse, her baby’s daddy, dreams for the future, her boys, and her new life in Christ. I watched Jackie bloom into a beautiful flower. I literally watched this rough tomboy turn into a caring, young, feminine mother. I am so proud of her and the choices she is now making.
Jackie no longer does drugs, she no longer looks to men to provide for her, and she broke up with her deadbeat gangster boyfriend. Jackie is now a follower of Christ ... Aside from leading Bible studies out of her home, she visits young pregnant girls and educates young moms on infant care, all while raising her own two boys. She is living out Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart...”