Truly Becoming Disciples

We read in Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Those who meditate on the law of the Lord are blessed. The word for “blessed” in Hebrew means “happy,” from a root word meaning “to be straight” or “to be right,” so we can read this as a blessing that speaks to the happiness of the one who is right with God. Since we know that none of us can be right with God apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ, what we have here is essentially the gospel contained within a single word. 

Let’s go a little further. Watch the progression of the man in the verses. First he is walking in the counsel of the wicked, he’s only just started down this path, perhaps even unmindfully, as sin so often creeps into our lives. But then he stands, he chooses to stay there, and finally he sits, having fully adopted the identity of the wicked, the sinners, and the scoffers. 

The blessed man, however, has found his delight and satisfaction and fulfillment in the word of God, and so he has not been tempted to look for his identity elsewhere. His is secure in the Lord. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water,” continues the psalmist, “that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Of course, only one person has ever perfectly accomplished everything written in Psalm 1, the great law keeper himself, Jesus, who is the prototype of the blessed man of Psalms and the wise man of Proverbs. 

This is why it is only Jesus from whom we can learn how to be the people we are called to be. And we can’t simply study him intellectually the way we studied the periodic table, because God didn’t just give us a book, he gave us a person, the word incarnate. Bill Clem says in his book Disciple, “The God of the Bible does not seem as interested in us knowing about him as he desires for us to actually know him — to have experiential knowledge of him. (Paul prays that the Ephesians would ‘know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,’ Eph. 3:19).”

And just as Paul encouraged the Philippian church to join in imitating him as he imitated Christ (Phil. 3:17) and the Corinthian church to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), so we find that discipleship works best when we enter into it alongside other Christ-followers. Being a disciple of Christ is not easy, so it’s best we don’t try to go it alone. C.S. Lewis compared the church to a fleet of ships sailing in formation, and Paul compared it several times to a relay race. In other words, following Christ is not an individual sport.

Clem goes on: “God reveals himself through the lives of people, and when people realize they are a part of God’s story, they become one of the most profound means of revealing God to others. This is the most meaningful role a created being can have in relation to his Creator.” Gallaty puts it another way, “Your success in the Christian life is significantly linked to how well you walk with other Christians.” Don’t overthink his use of the word success; as Christians, our measure of success looks a lot more like the blessed man from Psalm 1 than like anything the world might suggest.

To truly become disciples, though, requires more than occasionally socializing with your friends from church. Discipleship is not just Bible study, community group, or mentorship. It’s far more intentional and structured, and it involves taking ownership of your faith such that you are equipped and encouraged to share it and train others. Gallaty defines discipleship as intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. 

We would love to see every member of Hope Hill faithfully engaged in a weekly community group and to consider leading or joining a discipleship group. A D-group is a smaller, closed, gender-specific group of usually three to five people that meets regularly for studying and memorizing scripture and provides accountability for individual reading and studying as well as evangelism outside of the group meetings. At the end of a set period of time, each member of the D-group begins his or her own group with two to four more people. In this way, the gospel reaches more people and the kingdom spreads exponentially.

Written By: Jess Glass

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