One of the benefits of GPS technology is the elimination of bulky road maps that once unfolded could never be returned to their original state, winding up stuffed in the glove compartment of our cars. A cross country trip required several of these maps or a large map book that didn’t fit in the glove compartment and wound up forgotten under a seat or in the trunk.
Helpful as those maps were in showing the various routes and landmarks, they couldn’t tell you where you were on the map. That took some crafty detective work, without which the map was irrelevant. Many marriages were threatened (including my own) when couples, acting as driver and navigator, tried to negotiate unknown territory using a road map. Now with GPS a voice from the phone is the final arbitrator and the focus of any anger and angst.
The USA GPS system became available for civilian use in 1980 and since then has become as much a part of our lives as the common toothbrush (don’t leave home without it). The GPS is a system of 24 or more satellites, orbiting the earth 12,000 miles high, traveling at 7,000 mph. When a personal receiver connects with the system, it can lock onto 3 or more satellites giving the three dimensional coordinates: longitude, latitude, and altitude.
In addition to locating your own position, the GPS marvel is that it can identify the location of any place you want to go and give you a running commentary of how to get there. Once your destination is locked into the system, no matter how many wrong turns you make, it will continue to guide you to your chosen destination. (The older versions used to make you feel guilty for making a wrong turn by saying “Recalculating”. The newer, guiltless versions just give you the updated instructions.)
When we lock in the coordinates for our spiritual journey of Christ and His Kingdom, God gives us a GPS system that will accurately direct us to that goal regardless of where we are or tend to drift off to. The direction is based on three positioning coordinates: knowing, reflecting, and sharing Christ.
Discipleship on the resurrection side of the Cross must include all three if we are to attain a successful journey. Each coordinate is connected to the others and, although unique, cannot work alone. Our description of discipleship identifies each coordinate in order for us to participate and follow the voice of our Guide.
Discipleship is the personal, persistent pursuit
of knowing, reflecting, and sharing Christ
by means of critical spiritual disciplines
in the context of supporting relationships,
resulting in the distinctive marks of an apprentice of Christ.
Knowing Christ deeply
Most people find their identity in their accomplishments, titles or positions. Our lives are spent trying to prove our competence while living in constant fear that we will someday be found out and exposed. But what if our lives were based not on what we did but on who we know? Jesus said in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
The Bible’s perspective is that knowing Christ is both our greatest privilege and our greatest challenge. God has put within the heart of every man the desire to know Him. The desire may be masked by callous indifference, the cloud of sin, or the compulsion of busyness, but it is there.
Paul fanned that desire by letting go of the fickle facade of status and achievement and focusing on knowing Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ…I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:8, 10).
Knowing Christ is the heart of our journey of faith. Everything else flows from this one relationship. It is more than believing facts about Christ; it is the personal, progressive process of walking with Christ through all of life’s situations.
Knowing Him demands honest and consistent dialogue which leads to the incredible privilege of a personal friendship with the living God. In John 15:15, Jesus told his disciples, “I no longer call you servants …instead I have called you friends.” Friendship with God is not a relationship of equals. It is, however, the awesome opportunity for children to relate to their heavenly Father. As we learn, believe, and obey the will of God, He reveals more of His heart to us through His Spirit.
- Reflect Christ authentically
Historically church leaders have agreed that the primary purpose of our lives is to glorify God. But glorifying God is not in its essence, the common practice of singing worship songs or thinking mystical thoughts. We glorify God as we reflect His revealed nature through our everyday, ordinary lives. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
We reflect Christ as we are transformed in character, values, beliefs, and behavior. This inside-out transformation shapes our new identity in Christ and makes us authentic. We are becoming who we really are in Christ.
As the moon reflects the light (glory) of the sun, so we are to reflect the light (glory) of God. We, like the moon, are dependent on an external source for light. As we grow to know Him our lives change to conform to His image, we become lights to those around us. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said. God wants to display His nature to the world by transforming the lives of men and women of faith.
Reflecting Christ requires a partnership in which God’s Spirit works in us and we in turn cooperate with Him. Our response to God’s Word is one of faith and obedience resulting in transformation to be more and more like Christ. We value what He values. We make His ways our ways. We make His truth our beliefs.
- Sharing Christ intentionally
God’s plan for reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ, is for people to reach people. Each person is like a link in a chain connecting each spiritual generation to the next.
Jesus expressed it this way: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). And just before ascending into heaven Jesus gave the final command to go and make disciples.
Those few ordinary men turned their world upside down. Without the aid of technology, political clout or social status, they launched a world-changing movement and they did it one person at a time. God’s strategy is the same today as it was then. We have the same commission to invest spiritually in the lives of the next generation and add new links to the spiritual chain.
Questions for reflection:
- Is there evidence in your life that you have locked in the three coordinates of discipleship?
- If you have drifted off course, what is your next move to get back on track?