(Our next worship service is Saturday, December 12 at 6:30pm in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church, 3450 CR210, 32259)
It’s the season of Advent, and yesterday, my wife demonstrated amazing intentional initiative. She retrieved boxes of Christmas decorations from our attic. She removed our Fall and Thanksgiving decor. She put it all away. She pulled out Christmas nick-nacks, photos, and other paraphernalia and put them in suitable places around the house. She took the initiative to get started. She was very intentional about what she was doing. As a result of her labor she was weary, but she had transformed portions of the house for Christmas.
That got me thinking. If we desire transformation of any sort, it will require initiative and intentionality.
It’s Advent. It is a season that calls us to intentional anticipation. For God took initiative in Christ Jesus and came to us. Love took initiative!
Discipleship is about transformation. It is about becoming more like Christ. As Dallas Willard put it, it requires “learning from Jesus how to live like Jesus.” For transformation to happen, we must allow the love of God in our hearts to lead us to take initiative. It won’t happen without initiative followed by intentionalality.
Transformation is powerfully appealing. I have dear friends who want transformation. A couple want their marriage transformed. A young woman wants a transformed future. Another friend wants to kick an addiction. A colleague wants to see his church renewed. A church full of friends wants to regain impact in their community. At FCMC, we want to see a movement of mission and discpleship expanding on the First Coast. We want to see transformation.
Transformation requires initiative – beginning with praying, seeking God’s heart and help, AND getting counselors, going to meetings, pursuing an education, starting new programs, building new relationships.
Do you desire transformation? Is it in your heart? Do you get glimpses of the world as it is, as it should be, and as it could be? If so, have you considered that you might be yearning for God’s Kingdom? That’s the Advent is all about!
What sort of transformation do you desire?
Transformation begins with us.” If you want transformation, then let it begin with a desire to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Do you know the steps to take? One of our life shapes is about adopting the life-style of Jesus. We call it the discipleship lifestyle , or more commonly, the Up-In-Out triangle. It invites us to be intentional about living Up – developing our relationship with God. In- following Jesus with a few folks with whom we are “in”vested. And Out – going out to meet the world’s needs with God’s love, grace, and power. But you gotta start. And, as the shape implies, you cannot do it by yourself. Transformation happens in community. Indeed it requires it.
Do you want to see people and this world. transformed? Awesome! That’s a call to be a disciple-maker. It’s the great commission. In my personal, limited examination of history, discipleship is the only thing I know of that has changed the world in the right direction for a long time. Do you know how to make disciples so that this world is transformed? Some people confuse disciple-making with evangelism. I did. I was a pastor for 14 years before the distinction fell into place in my mind. And, while I am grateful for ministries of evangelism, I have observed evangelized people are too often un-transformed. That’s why evangelistic organizations with integrity are so serious about follow-up. They know that transformation requires the initiative of evangelism and the intentionality of discipleship.
Discipleship leads to disciple-making, or just discipling. Discipling is about helping people to learn from Jesus how to live like Jesus. By the way, you can disciple the unevangelized. Discipleship is usually learned life-on-life. It is picked up through imitation. So it requires taking initiative to build relationships and being intentional with the time spent together. So, humbly, as a late-comer and a slow learner, let me ask, are you equipped to walk along side someone in such a way that they will begin to live more like Jesus and know Him better? Because becoming equipped for discipleship requires on-going, personal transformation. It won’t happen apart from taking initiative and being intentional.
The Apostle Paul modeled this. He wrote, “We proclaim Christ, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. It is to this end that I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1: 28-29)
He knew a thing or two about initiative and intentionality and disciple-making. He was single minded, purposeful, and direct. What he did with his life still resonates today. Vecause he was obediently, intentionally imitating Christ.
So during this season of Advent, I invite you to do something similar. Remember that out of His great love for you, God took initiative to come to you in Christ Jesus. Imitate that where you are. And remember that in His love for you, Jesus Christ intentionally went to the cross. And his loving initiative and intentionality is at work bringing about a new creation around us, in us, and through us.
And I invite you to take the initiative, to be very intentional about joining God in what He is doing!
And may the love of Christ compel you!