Remember Match Sprint Cycling in the Olympic Games? Two cyclists ready their bikes to speed the oval. But they first eye each other to see when the opponent makes the break for a sprint to the end.
Sharing discipleship with other Christians can be like Match Sprint Cycling. We keep our eyes on each other instead of both focusing on Jesus. We wonder what our fellow believer does instead of what Jesus wants to do through each of us. We strain to beat our brother instead of working with him to defeat Satan. We excel in competing with fellow Christians instead of helping them be their best as disciples.
All discipleship is complementary, not competitive. Competition is only within self, working to improve the giftedness Jesus bestowed in us. Being complementary, we’re willing to help another improve his giftedness. Harder than that, we’re willing to ask help in developing ours.
We’re in the kingdom together against all satanic machinations. Whatever we can do to conquer him; or whatever we can do to help others conquer him, we shall. Since even small victories in others make our work for Jesus easier, we pray for others. Whatever they can do that we can’t, we pray they’ll exceed our expectations! We’re in a supplementary, supportive kingdom of forgiven sinners each seeking to become improving saints and willing to help others achieve it sooner and better!
Nathaniel Hawthorne made a worthwhile point in The Scarlet Letter. Being with people unlike ourselves broadens experience not otherwise gained. That’s similar to the encouragement Fox Conner gave a young Dwight Eisenhower. In associating with people above him mentally and emotionally he would grow beyond his personal experiences.
That philosophy applies to Christian fellowship, but from a different perspective. While believers share a common faith in the Savior, each processes Bible knowledge and personal experience at varying speeds. However, when weaker Christians regularly associate with stronger Christians, an amazing spiritual synergism results. While even the strongest Christian can be defeated singly, and the weaker more easily and oftener, we together become redoubtably strong in spiritual warfare, whether in single encounters protracted campaigns.
Christians, seek worship, fellowship, study or evangelistic opportunities. Whatever your level of faith or spiritual courage, by your very presence you add to the spiritual synergy that empowers all of God’s people!
ternalThe story appeared in the Sunday edition of the Union-Tribune, 9/29/19. A Polish teen named Renia Spiegel began a private Diary, 1 January, 1939. On 1 September, 1939, German troops invaded western Poland. On 17 September 1939, Russia invaded eastern Poland.
In the 44 months between 1 September 1939 and 30 July, 1942, Renia filled her Diary with daily cares, ambitions, concerns and romance with her boyfriend. On 30 July, 1942, German troops rousted the family from their hiding place, dragged them into the street and SHOT them dead!
Her boyfriend survived Auschwitz and preserved the Diary. However, for unknown reasons, it had been in a New York City safe-deposit box for decades. Only recently discovered, it has been published. The Diary resonates with the emotions haunting the Diary of Anne Frank in Holland.
Sometimes, what we write as our personal history becomes unwanted public information; and what we want revealed remains a secret. Except when it’s God’s Word, Old or New. As God said in Isaiah 55:10-11, his word achieves all he desires for it, whether revealed to seekers or opponents. It ever lives, proliferates, motivates and LASTS! Written with the world’s population in mind, it’s presently read in nearly every known tongue. Personally written by GOD through chosen servants, it’s been personalized by BILLIONS throughout history. Meant to guide daily life, its wisdom to this day protects believers from the foolishness of life. Designed to prepare us for life beyond the grave, it never fails to fortify us with eternal hope.
The Pharisees had a “to-the-death” ownership-obsession with the Sabbath. Christ’s free-wheeling use of it continually enraged them. It didn’t matter that Jesus said God made the Sabbath for man, not vice-versa. That is, as a day of liberating rest, not of regimented idleness identified by some 600 rules Mark 2:27.
Nor did it matter that they “worked” on the Sabbath to care for their animals. Which logically meant they couldn’t complain of his “work” using the Sabbath to heal a woman Satan had beleaguered for 18 years! Luke 13:10-17.
However, Christ’s Identity as the One Who Came From Heaven meant he could use the Sabbath as he pleased. The Pharisees had no authority over the day. He made the same point about conversion to Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus, not Nicodemus, determined how we entered the spiritual life. He made the same point to the Samaritan woman about religious authority in history. The Jews, not the Samaritans, had been chosen by God to bear his message to humanity John 4:22.
So here we are, in a society of religious turmoil, each persuasion trumpeting its own version as true. I stand where Stacey Hall stood years ago when among men arguing about religion. He held up his New Testament and said, “Whenever you’re willing to follow God’s final authority, you’ll find me ready to talk about religious matters.” End Part III
Albert Schweitzer played Bach so expertly that Charles Widor, himself an accomplished composer and organist, found himself a student of the good Doctor’s tutelage. His willingness to admit Schweitzer’s superior expertise to his own skill has significant implications for all religious people vis á vis Jesus.
Whoever he encountered, of whatever intellectual or social credentials, the Teacher had something to say to everyone in Israel. As did his apostles to their audiences Empire-wide. As do Christians to this day.
While the subject matter will be formerly catalogued later, consider a few random examples. Jesus could teach every human, and many disciples, essential facts about Discipleship.
For example, that self-denial is the basis of it, and without which no true discipleship exists. With Matthew 16:21-28 as the text, remember that Simon Peter confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“From that time on” Jesus taught openly what he had previously taught in figures. He must “suffer many things...must be killed...be raised to life....”
The same Simon tried to correct Jesus. “This shall never happen to you.” To find himself, not blessed, but a satan for objecting to what Jesus said.
Self-denial is undoubtedly the least mentioned aspect of discipleship in today’s preaching. Tithing may run a close second. But there it is...staring unblinkingly at us...self-denial the basis of discipleship. Will we learn and obey that from Jesus? End Part II
Albert Schweitzer visited Charles Widor in Paris. Widor served as organist in Saint Sulpice. Himself a master of music, Widor had composed ballet, comic opera, symphonies and chamber music. Webster’s Biographical Dictionary, 1570.
Yet, after hearing Schweitzer play the organ, Widor admitted his superiority. He also admitted that Bach’s choral preludes baffled him. The good Doctor explained that they could be understood only by the choral texts. Hearing each explained, Widor finally began to understand Bach. Reader’s Digest, Biography, 445.
He also wanted Schweitzer to write down all he could about the choral preludes, to be used as a teaching tool of other organists. All of this has significant implications for all religious leaders vis á vis Jesus. End Part I