A Simplified Plan for Essential Discipleship

What is discipleship?

Psalm 1 Tree

Simplified Overview

Stream = God’s message of love

The Great Commission

Quoting Jesus:

The Stream of God’s Revelation

Jesus is What God has to Say

God’s revelation to humanity is described in Psalm 1 as a stream that gives life. There are many things one could say about God’s revelation, but ultimately we end up at Jesus.

The Story Reveals Jesus as Life

How can we learn a story that is as huge as the Bible? We want to learn the details, but we do not want to lose sight of the big picture. What we need is a way to simplify things without minimizing the importance of complex things.

The Overall Story in Five Parts

1. God is the source of life and goodness.

The problem is life to death.

Drawing these two columns can help us see the basic problem in life. We mainly experience this through various struggles and anxieties. The life that we sense ought to be, as represented in the first part, is not the life we experience, as represented in the second part.

What does God do about the problem of Life to Death?

The third part of the story is how God seeks to rescue humanity. It begins with a promise to Abraham, that he would be blessed to be a blessing to all nations. His offspring become Israel, who collectively make a covenant to become a kingdom of priests (connectors) between God and humanity. Israel keeps straying from their calling, but ultimately produce Jesus. He fulfills Israel’s role. He lives life the way it is meant to live and then willingly receives the death that humanity fears. This part of the story tells us that Christ’s good is greater than our bad, in life and in death. God shows us this through the resurrection.

The Promise is Death to Life

Jesus says to take up your cross and follow him. This is a picture of death to life. If you try to save your own life, like in part 2 of our story where we struggle, you will lose it. But if you lose your life for Christ’s sake, you will actually find it. What does all of this mean?

Rooted Connection to God’s Revelation

The stream is the story of God’s revelation. God’s ultimate revelation is in the person of Christ, who overcame death and empowers life that is loving. Allegiance to Christ is the point of the story of God’s redemptive work. But how do we actually act on that?

Apostles’ Invitation

Simple to Deep

The simple confession is that the resurrected Jesus is Lord of all, including me. I explain my identity as a Christian by saying that I believe “Jesus is right”. I can expand on that at length but it gets my point across. I trust Jesus and will stick with him. What this also does is free me up from trying to clarify where I stand in regard to various Christian groups, individuals, and historical actions. My faith is simple enough to be stated as personal allegiance to Jesus and all that is his.

Personal Depth

This concept of simple allegiance with deep implications is crucial to personal well-being. We want to keep growing in our convictions. The longer we follow Christ the more our understanding will change. What is important is that our allegiance stands tall and consistent, even as our complexity extends deep and wide as we connect to the stream of his story.

Branching Out God’s Revelation

As we believe the story of Christ as the key to life and love, and we root ourselves in an identity of trust that is both simple and deep, we also branch out in word and deed. The tree of Psalm 1 has leaves that are fresh. What does that mean?

Now to Next

The New Testament is clear about God mercifully accepting imperfect people as they are. What is sometimes overlooked is that mercy also empowers the imperfect to mature. The Greek word telos, in various forms, conveys this idea of maturing. In many English translations it is rendered perfect. That freaks us out. We aren’t supposed to be perfect, are we?

Celebrating the Fruit of God Produces in and through Us

Reproduction: Seeds to Trees

Lastly, what we receive we give. Mercy, love, teaching, discipleship… pass it on. Every gospel ends with exhortations to proclaim who Christ is and the life he invites people to join. The kingdom of God grows through the people of God inviting others and helping those who respond to belong and also become inviters.