I have just come back from Winter Fest where I laid out the first three of a series on discipleship. Despite a few cultural mistakes, I made some good connections with students. There is a lot of potential for the high school students who were present to be used mightily by God. However, it was apparent that many of them are not sure exactly who is on their side. Some are raised by single parents who love them, but they have little time to connect. Others are raised by parents who just give them a key to the house and make sure the fridge is stocked with groceries. Without an adult modeling any kind of relationship, they don’t know how to have a relationship with Christ. A lot of the high school students have had a huge turnover in adult mentors in their groups. The loss of that connection is painful and developing trust with a whole new set of leaders is hard.
I was thrilled, though, to see the quality of the youth pastors at Winter Fest. They care about their students and are exasperated by the lack of enthusiasm for their saviour. I am challenged with the thought of whether the high school students who display no fruit have ‘accepted ‘ Christ on their own terms or whether they have bowed the knee to Jesus on Jesus’ terms. The first step in discipleship is to give Jesus absolute authority as king. The second step is to establish that authority in the community. The third step is to keep searching for a Jesus who hides himself. The fourth step is to maintain a faithful community of believers by actively forgiving one another. The final assessment of our lives is whether we knew Jesus and more importantly if we revealed our true natures to him so that he could know us.
I pray that this path will be a worthy response to the cross of Christ. If we understand a little of the gulf that Jesus crossed for mankind’s evil nature, we will follow the five steps of discipleship with unending gratitude and fervour.