Head Heart Hands: The Fully-Formed Disciple
In the Great Commission, Jesus directs us to create disciples. In our going we need to be making followers of Jesus. We’ve been commissioned into this mission. We should take that seriously. Jesus says "follow me" and disciples do that in God’s family: a community called the church-. Church leaders then equip the church to create more fully-formed disciples. We are a family on mission together, serving our neighbors. And all of us play a part in this job of disciple-making. Some of us are being discipled, some of us are discipling, all of us are part of this process. That means you to
Great, but how do we do this? Most believers stumble through life trying their best and failing a lot. There are groups in the church who have actually been able to do this effectively and, thankfully, they share their ideas with the greater church. And not surprisingly, a lot of their ideas are pretty similar. Most of the "missional" tribes (SOMA, 3DM, Verge, etc) talk about the same three things. I boil it down into this: Head, Heart, Hands.
Warning: It’s simple but not it’s not easy. It's all about intentionally and effectively seeing disciples made and multiplied. Take a look:
"Who is God?" "What's life all about?" "What happens when we die?" "Where did we all come from?" Do you have an opinion on any of that? If so, where did you get that opinion? What informed you? What you think about God is called "theology". So what's your theology? Did you get it from pop culture? If so, do you think that is going to give you the truth?
Thankfully, the bible answers all those questions and God has given the church the gift of teachers who are gifted at teaching the truth of the bible. It's God's living, breathing Word. Lots of facts, stories and truths, all for our good, all pointing to a man: Jesus.
A million years ago (it seems) the church called this "doctrine". That may be a scary word in 2020 but a fully-formed disciple needs to get good doctrine into their brains. You want to worship the real God, not the version you heard about on that sitcom. Reading the Scriptures, learning from Gospel teachers, listening to their Pastor's sermons, the truth IS out there and a disciple gets it in their minds and considers those big questions of life. You've got a brain. Use it.
Note: We can be part of a dozen bible studies but if that knowledge of God doesn’t move south to our hearts then it is simply academic and doesn’t lead to transformation. We need to “know” but if that “knowing” isn’t rooted in the core of our being then we miss out on who God has created us to be: Worshippers overcome by His love. That leads to the next part...
Once the Gospel takes root, the Holy Spirit does some amazing work. Your motives change. How you view God and other people changes. It’s what the bible calls the renewing of your mind, which moves south. You grow in grace and love through faith not by works. Believing the Gospel actually gives you a new heart! Your new heart will be a heart of repentance (turning from sin and turning toward God). God saves us from the power of sin everyday through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s isn’t something that happens over night, but eventually you find yourself wanting different things--the things of God!
But we are forgetful. We forget the Gospel and instead believe lies. This is where community can be so valuable. We get to remind one another of the Gospel and of our new identity in Christ. We get to remind one another of God’s promises. Together we cultivate belief in the Gospel. You may try to do this on your own but we work best together because He made us into a family. And as a family we do the things that encourage faith in our hearts: Pray, sing, worship, study and praise.
What cultivates your love of God? What cultivates your belief that you are loved by God? Do those things.
What robs you of your love for God? What robs you of your faith that you are loved by God? Don’t do those things.
Remember, Christians lives should be defined by love. That's "the aim of our charge". We should be growing in love for God and for His people, loving our enemies and loving our city. Which leads to the final point...
The actions of our hands reflect the belief in our heart. Simply put: We do what we believe. A heart transformed by the love of God can't help but to respond out of gratitude--loving others as we love ourselves, pursuing biblical justice, caring for the marginalized, and serving our city. It's our chance to do something with what you've learned. As we say around Corinth, “overflow”. It’s a life of showing people the goodness of God’s love through our actions. As some mission agencies say, “Earning the right to be heard.”
A fully-formed disciple's life will look different. The Holy Spirit will be at work changing you, your motives, your thoughts and your actions. A life in the Holy Spirit will cause people to ask questions. It will be a life so different from the world that it demands a gospel explanation!
Conversely, someone who believes money, security, power and entertainment are their “god” will pursue more money, security, power and entertainment. We do what we believe. Someone who believes we have to spiritually "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" will probably be a legalistic jerk. If you believe Jesus is Who He says He is, you'll probably respond accordingly: With humility and grace.
One of the qualities the bible points out in a fully-formed disciple is hospitality. Not necessarily the version that we think of today, “hey babe, let’s pick up the house before the VanderVanders come over…” but the version of the bible: Treating the stranger the way you would treat your family. “Strangers” are by definition “strange”. They are not like you. Who lives in proximity to you, who is different from you, who you don’t know all that well? Invite them over. Fire up the grill. Do a play date. Play a board game. You get the idea. Just do something with someone you don’t know well. Prayerfully begin there and be ready for what God has in store.
Now some people are going to have natural gifting and passions for maybe one of these. A fully-formed disciple needs to be growing in all three areas.
Are you a bible trivia nerd? Love knowing and keeping the rules? Careful. You may keep packing in new things you've learned about God, the church, life, mission, etc. but if your heart isn't being gripped by the Gospel something isn't right. If you are not actually serving, doing and sharing the love with others then you probably don't believe the Gospel to be true.
See how this works? We do what we believe. A loved person loves people.
Some of us love God and worship but don’t like to get all mixed up in creeds or confessions or any of that old churchy mambo-jumbo. “Just keep it simple, love God and love people.” Sounds nice on the outside but this is dangerous. Because we are to be devoted to the teaching of the Apostles. We are to be learning how to do all that Jesus taught. God gave the church the gift of teachers and preachers. That means what they have to teach and preach is valuable. Good doctrine matters! So when a pastor challenges you to move beyond the books you normally gravitate to, it’s not because they are theological snobs, it’s because they love you and know you need to be challenged to learn good doctrine. It might mean this is an area where you need growth.
Maybe you dig action and want to get going with service. Great! But what are your motives for service? To look good to others? To make you feel good about yourself? To score points with God? If so, check your head. You probably need some doctrine. Your heart probably needs to believe truth instead of lies (like that God's opinion of you changes based on how much good work you do--that is a lie from the pits of hell). You're a child of the King! Nothing can separate you from His love! Scripture promises that. If you were reading, and studying in community and being encouraged by brothers and sisters in the trenches with you, you'll be so much more effective in your service and you won’t be using people as your projects of service. You’ll be loving people for the sake of loving people. Serving out of overflow.
You may be good at one and bad at the other. That’s okay! The challenge is to see how you are growing in each area. As a church family we will intentionally walk with you into all three areas. Don’t be afraid to contact your pastors to ask for equipping in any of these three areas.
This next season of COVID19 means welcoming people into your homes in groups of 10 or less. Please do not miss this opportunity to share the love and truth of Jesus with your neighbors. The stranger the better.