I recently went on a trip to Taiwan with seven colleagues from work. We went there to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
The flight from Dallas to Tokyo was thirteen hours, and the flight from Japan to Taiwan was four more. We were all tired by the time we arrived, but we hit the ground running. The next seven days were spent participating in Bible studies, small groups, and other activities.
Trips like this can be both exhausting and exhilarating. Preparation and participation tends to be overwhelming. After being involved in this and other mission experiences, however, I’ve witnessed something very unique with fellow team members. Bonding takes place on the journey to share Jesus with people! We, who were once strangers, can become life-long friends. We now have a shared experience that otherwise would not have happened – all in the name of Jesus Christ!
The trip to Taiwan reminded me of the journey the twelve apostles took when they agreed to follow Christ. Following Jesus meant that each of them had to be fully committed to the purpose and process to which he called them.
I decided to become a Christ-follower at age fifteen, and I was very serious about it. I had a big question though, i.e.“Now What?!” I did not know what it meant to be a committed, fully-devoted follower of Christ. Over the last 20 years of following Jesus, I’ve discovered that I’ve grown the most during times of trial. I’ve grown and persevered with the aid of strong relationships – people who were invested in me and I in them. I know growth has occurred within these mutually accountable relationships. We’ve loved one another, encouraged one another, and spent time learning about one another. It is in relationships with others who sincerely love Jesus that I’ve found my heart’s desire – an ever growing and closer relationship with Christ.
Life happens. Along the way I have lost the fire and then found it again. I have experienced the ebb and flow of a life-long journey in craving a deep relationship with Christ. I’ve often realized that it was not Christ who seemed to move away at times; it was me.
Being a part of a discipling group where we share hurts, trials, victories, and confess our sins, brings about a bonding with people that would not have happened another way. We share books we’ve read, movies we like, hobbies, and habits. We learn about one another little by little, and as we “do life together” our craving for Christ mutually increases.
I love the sisters that I meet with each week. I look forward to our time together. I can sense the sincere love and encouragement from each of them. I can see in each of them the desire to know Christ more deeply, and it inspires me to “run the race” and not give up! When people invest in other people with Christ being the center of the relationship, the process of discipleship comes naturally and feels easier.
Life is difficult, and we’re reminded that our time here will be filled with trouble. The process of relating together as members of the body, however, should not be a complicated or difficult matter! On the contrary, life together is the stuff of discipleship. We need and should desire it!
Time spent with my discipleship group allows me to breathe. It’s a time that I can truly be myself. I know I can share anything and that it will not go anywhere else! Advice and encouragement are given, and prayer is sincere. I’ve gained new perspectives on old beliefs. Spending time with others sharing in this way brings about relationships that are intimate and real.
Now I see a little more clearly what Christ was doing when he intimately spent his time of ministry with twelve men. He not only taught them, but he led by example. He coached them. He invested in each of their lives, and he loved them. Where there are Christ-based relationships among committed believers, there is discipleship!
“…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-and all the
more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24 & 25