Being a disciple is one who has a living relationship with God and a relationship with the community. In choosing to be a disciple of Christ, our faith must be integrated into every single aspect of our life and not just on Sundays when we come to church for the Eucharistic Celebration. To foster a deep relationship with God, we must intentionally choose to abide in Him even when it means encountering the Lord by being in an uncomfortable zone. Our relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ must be life-giving.
Why should we then choose discipleship when it seems so difficult and appears to offer no benefits?
Discipleship offers us fullness of life that nothing and nobody else in this world can offer to us. When we choose to adopt a lifestyle that follows the footsteps of Jesus, we find our purpose in life and have joy in our hearts despite the suffering that we may have to endure. There is bound to be inconsistency in human actions with changing preferences and beliefs. We are always changing but only God does not change. It is thus paramount to have God as our reference point so that we are not constantly swayed by the continuous changes in the world but instead, rooted in the teachings of God. With a deeply rooted relationship with Christ, we can then become more Christ-like and reflect the nature of Christ in our thoughts and actions. We will begin to love one another and confidently bear witness to the redemptive work of God in our lives.
Of course, discipleship comes with a cost or else it will merely be cheap grace where we receive and are not willing to sacrifice for the Lord. Discipleship entails effort and involves saying “no” to many other things in our lives.
Firstly, we have to start making room for growth and grace such as through prayer where we can converse with the Lord. It is through spiritual nourishment that we can have the quiet confidence in our daily lives. We are able to claim the truth that our identities lie in Christ alone and no matter what happens we are still the same person yesterday and today, that is, a beloved child of God.
Secondly, we have to be obedient to Him and the people with spiritual authority. Jesus says that “Those who love me will obey my teaching.” (John 14:23) It sounds demanding to be obedient to all the teachings of the church because as imperfect human beings, we all have the inclination to sin and only select the few teachings that we agree with. However, by choosing the teachings we want to obey, it is not obedience at all because we are unable to put down our pride and follow Him even when it is difficult. True obedience is choosing to say “Yes Jesus, I want what you desire for me even when I don’t understand because I know you have plans for me to prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Finally, it is mandatory that we live a comprehensive and integrated life, that is, to be aware of the presence of God in every single aspect of our life. We are called to get past the need to feel His presence all the time and to intentionally choose to give thanks and pray even when we are feeling so exhausted. Our faith is not about feeling the Lord, it is about choosing to act in faith even when we are unable to feel His presence. It is precisely in these moments of spiritual lethargy that we can grow deeper in our faith and grow closer to Him.
Jesus does not promise us a comfortable and luxurious life by following Him, but he promises that He will never fail us. Will you take up your cross and follow Him?
By Rebecca Tan