Discipline has been simply and aptly defined as-
1) Choosing to eat what we need instead of what we crave.
2) Choosing to do what we need to do instead or what we feel like doing.
With that in mind, it is important to reflect on what exactly our need is, when it comes to the discipline we maintained in our way of life as disciples of Christ.
As it is, life is already hard and one might be of the opinion that there is no need to provoke people with questions that might add to their burdens, right? Well, if we intend to live life only for the moment with perspective like that, then I think it is even more important to consider the question at hand, which is, Do we have any discipline at all in our discipleship as Christians? Recently, someone provocatively asked me in one of my post in a Facebook group to “Define a Christian?”. The best and briefest answer I could give come up with at that moment was, “A Christian is someone who accepted the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross and follow His teachings.” The questioner seemed satisfied, much to my relief. Therefore, as people who accepted Christ as our personal Saviour, we become ‘Disciples of Christ’ who agree to adhere to His teachings with discipline. To be utterly blunt and truthful, we are either Christians with discipline or nothing at all. There is no such thing as a Christian without any discipline. We are either all in it with discipline or not in it at all.
I know it’s hard to shift our focus on our oblivious shortcomings and weaknesses when we are convinced that as Christians, we’ve been trying our best in surviving trials, overcoming problems and braving sudden turns and jolts this journey of life threw our way.
But what if making an effort to look inward and to reflect on our discipleship is the need of our life at this point, instead of just expending all our effort to dodge and overcome life’s obstacles?
What if looking inward and confronting ourselves is the answer to our prayer; one that would take us onto the next and whole new level of understanding God and gaining deeper insights on who He is?
What if taking a pause and asking oneself questions that are difficult but necessary is the way to discipline that we need at this point in our lives?
One might be materially and financially secure presently and might not even consider looking for God as something that is essential for the moment. But we must understand that our progress in material and physical things are not God’s purpose for our lives but rather a means to help us get to where He wanted us: Total submission to His Will in obedience and total trust in Him (i, e, Discipleship).
This self reflecting thing or daring to look deep within ourselves is honestly, exhausting and sometimes excruciating but needless to say, the need of everyone who calls Christ ‘Lord’.
My personal experience taught me that every time I manage to muster up the courage to look deeper within me and learn about myself and my weaknesses, I always found myself uncomfortable, humbled and taught. But then, these experiences also ushers in more insights from the Word of God through the Holy Spirit. This means that I have more access to the deep things of God. Choosing to be in immense discomfort in repentance usually led me to knowing the Love, Grace and Mercy of God deeper, wider and higher! We must get used to the fact that there is always a price to pay along the way to Heaven but let me tell you that it is so worth it! I have had to lose and choose to renounce many things I clung to, but I have absolutely no regret because in losing my worldly desire, I’ve only gained uncountable good things that I needed. What we don’t know is that our needs met in Christ is our fulfillment emotionally and spiritually. A Christ-centered life, I dare say, is an experience I ‘enjoy’ which are literally out of this world and a reflection of the new world to come.
Anyone who has accepted Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord is a disciple of Christ. And that makes many of us ‘disciples of Christ.’ Discipleship in the ancient biblical world is the active imitation of both the master and his teachings in a deliberate and disciplined manner. And as His disciples, Jesus Christ commanded us to remain in His Love to learn His Will because we wouldn’t survive any discipline that is not taught to us in His love; and God knows how often we need to be disciplined. God in His Sovereignty has lavished His enduring Love on us through His Son, in order for us to do His will. Even though we often misuse His love to quench the thirst of our flesh: the very flesh that the Apostle Paul said “I beat it to make it my slave”, He is faithful to forgive us our sins when we repent. The Apostle Paul’s commitment is an example for us to imitate in our obedience as disciples of Christ.
Now, the desire of the flesh includes every thought and everything else that we want to oblige but contradicts the Will of God laid down in black and white in the Bible. And to deny our flesh and its desires, we must actively choose to remain in His love.
So, how do we remain in His Love? By keeping His commands. And how do we keep His commands? By obeying His command to deny ourselves, which is the opposite of what our sinful nature desire. By being obedient, we remain in His love. We therefore make great efforts to keep engaging in essential things like praying and reading The Word (Bible) everyday. And most importantly, we must make deliberate choices in alignment with the Word of God and make conscious efforts to apply it in our daily life dealings and situations within ourselves and also with other people. The more we apply the Word of God in our lives, the more we grow spiritually.
The gospel doesn’t always feel good or comfortable, which is contrary to what most people today believe and want. Jesus said “enter the narrow gate” which is real work and requires effort (i, e, discipline). But we must also rest in the assurance that the one who commanded us to enter the narrow gate is the Saviour of the world who gave himself up for us. He gives us His body and blood as food and drink for our discipleship journey that will eventually take us to our final destination, which is perfect fellowship with the Father.
Discipleship is hard work but also the most worthwhile endeavour that we can take on that has everlasting implications. Discipleship is hard work, so is everything else in this world that is worth pursuing, especially God. The fruits of hard-work is as always immensely fulfilling and usually brings in good dividends in our overall wellbeing. Nobody has ever gained anything good by choosing to be idle and without a care. And spiritual gain is a must. Growth is a must!
Discipleship is indeed a very challenging work but nothing is more worthwhile than labouring for Christ, our redeemer to be the Lord of our lives. As we labour in denying ourselves everyday and carrying our own cross, we can rest assured in the fact that we do not run the race in this journey aimlessly. And we have hope even if we haven’t run the race today or yesterday or in a while because God is full of Grace and Mercy and is always by our side ready to help us whenever we are willing to resume the journey. Remember, He is faithful.
The question that require an honest answer: Have we at least tried?
And our concluding question to reflect on is this: Is our discipleship life marked by discipline?
Bible reference: Galatians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 2:10, Psalm 119:9-12, John 15:9-12, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, James 2:14-26, John 6:54.
– Chingngaihlian Tunglut
September 4, 2019/Article in English – 01
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