Christ is teaching me.
I've always been hungry for knowledge, specifically truth from the Word. I am constantly enjoying the Bible, books about Jesus, sermons or anything that pours out wisdom & understanding into my heart & mind.
But God has been pressing me in a different way the past several months. It started this summer when I realized how lazy I had become in my pursuit of Christ. See I can't claim to be a Christian unless I know Christ. That's like me saying that I am part of the Obama family because I know who they are and support the President's efforts (I didn't vote for Obama in case you are wondering). Just because you know Jesus via growing up in the church or whatever, doesn't mean He knows you. That's a side note.
But I do want to clarify what I'm saying before I explain what God has been doing in my life. I hear a whole lot of talk about people being Christians but not a lot of people stick their neck out there these days and say, "I'm a disciple of Christ."
Look at Acts 11:26-"The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." So which came first, the Christian or the disciple? It is evident to me that we have it backwards because we want to fall into the "Christian" category without having to wear the mark or discipline of an actual disciple of Christ. It's like the term disciple bears more responsibility than the sweet term Christian. I remember thinking that disciples were for the ultra God lovers, like a varsity team. Uh huh. Nope. The two are not separate groups. I am a Christian BECAUSE I am a disciple and if I am not a disciple than I am not a Christian.
The word disciple carries a lot of weight. This is what Jesus has been pressing on me so much lately. Like I said, it hit me this summer that I was neglecting several areas of spiritual growth. I wasn't memorizing scripture. I wasn't praying like I believed in prayer. I was reading my daily Bible but not studying it. And on and on I could go. So I sucked it up and asked a dear friend of mine (her blog) to be my accountability to a specific list of things that I wanted to start doing, or in a few cases stop doing. She became iron to me and her knowledge of my struggles began to sharpen me into a more disciplined disciple.
Here are a few of the questions she asks me every week:
Are you spending time in the Word at least 5 days a week?
Are you praying?
What scripture did you memorize this week?
Have you disrespected Lex in any way? Have you asked him for forgiveness?
She asks me about finances, my intimacy with Lex, my intimacy with God. The really really hard stuff that I'd rather just keep private, ya know? But guess what happens when that goes private...I DON'T GROW & I'M NOT SHARPENED. When I know that Beth is going to ask me about certain things I am immediately more aware of them. There's a reason that we're called to live in deep community with other believers. (Gal. 6:1, Heb. 10:24-25) There's a reason we are told to confess our sins to one another. (James 5:16)
I am so glad that I have finally tasted the benefit of having an accountability partner. I just can't do it on my own & Christ new that. That's why the body of believers is designed to be one. God never intended for us to live out our faith alone. (John 17:20-21)
Disclaimer: I'm a sinner.
Therefore: this method hasn't made me perfect in any of the areas I'm seeking to grow in, but I am growing. I'm not stale or stagnant in my walk. That's what the Christian faith is all about. The world looks at us and sees a lack of perfection & therefore a bunch of hypocrites. The believer looks in the mirror and sees a filthy rag who desperately needs a Savior day after day. I don't have to struggle to earn God's favor or salvation, but instead make the choice to freely receive the grace Jesus offers as atonement for my sinfulness. The only reason grace is a free gift is because there is nothing we can do to earn it, no amount of holiness or "goodness" that we can present to God to buy it, and definitely not enough church attendance that we can trade in for it. Once grace is received, there's a huge cost to being a disciple of Christ. Anyone who argues otherwise is a fraud. You want proof? Read the Bible. Start in Genesis.
Ultimately, I'm falling more in love with Christ. I'm letting Him mold me into a disciple. Will the process ever be complete? Not until Heaven it won't. Until then, I am enjoying the aches and pains of it all. The continual struggle of flesh and spirit is a battlefield. I don't always win. Actually, I can barely make it to lunch time without a few reminders of how weak I am. But when I taste those victories...they are good. He is good through it all. I see that. I know that. I'm learning that over and over again.