“Discipleship starts the moment someone recognizes something different in you.” This statement was made in the early years of my ministry by a theology teacher and left a lasting imprint. He suggested the moment someone changes their behavior because of witnessing Christ in you is the moment you can intentionally share spiritual insights. This nugget of wisdom gained from my teacher is what I use as a barometer to engage a friend in discipleship.
Jesus demonstrates in John 4:9-10 how to move from an ordinary moment into an act of discipleship. The woman at the well questioned Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.).” Jesus drew her into discipleship, “If you knew the gift of God and who it was that asked you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
You are the light of the world, a town built on a hill that cannot be hidden. As you invest in friendship, people will notice something different about you and will give you an indicator that they are open. They may ask a question about the difference they have observed. Or, they may change something about their lives because they don’t want to offend you (i.e., cussing, smoking, gossiping). Don’t casually dismiss the change. This is an indicator they see Christ in you! Their perceptions reveal an open heart. Use these indicators to build on the friendship and move into intentional discipleship.
Ask God to reveal to you where the person is spiritually. We cannot write people off because they may not be ready for Bible study. Prayerfully evaluate what invitation to extend. Some people will be ready to study the Bible, but some might only want to read a spiritual book (ex: The Hiding Place, The Purpose Driven Life). Pray, take courage, meet them where they are, and invite them to study and grow with you.
“As we befriend people, they will see Christ in us. But do not make the mistake of thinking that friendship is all they need.“
As we befriend people, they will see Christ in us. But do not make the mistake of thinking that friendship is all they need. To see true change, our friends must encounter the Word of God that is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, and we must rely on the demonstration of His Spirit, not our persuasive words. Be preceptive and then creatively invite them to study books and the Word. Time together in study, discussion, and prayer will take them to a new level in knowing God
Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” As we encounter His children from different nations, backgrounds, experiences, and personalities, we will see they are at different spiritual levels. Enjoy this great exploration and journey with the Lord as you invest time, discern where people are, and engage in their lives. May He receive glory, honor, and praise because we lived our lives fulfilling the Great Commission