The cost of Bystanders

In my last post I wrote about the need for Christians to commit differently. I suggested that 2 big problems in the church today were people overcommitting and committing to the wrong things. While programs, ministries and being intentional in what we invest in are important, I believe walking closer to Jesus should be an even higher priority for believers in our church communities today.

There are many people in our congregations who have no time for Discipleship 

While we live in a very different time and culture to that of Jesus and those who followed him, we should not disregard how they did discipleship. I really think that understanding what it meant for those who responded to Christs call back then, will help us today.

Rather than bombard you with 20 more paragraphs of information about the life of a student, the pursuit of a Rabbi/teacher and how picky they were with choosing followers, if you have a heart for coming along side others and are keen to see a culture of discipleship in your Christian community, then I really want to encourage you to do some research. I have found learning about this stuff refreshing, confronting and life changing as I continue to work out my salvation and help others do the same.

“Follow me”. These words of Jesus can be read a number of times in the Gospels and are still being heard all around the world today. In chapter one of Mark verses 17 &18, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew casting their nets and told them that he would send them to fish for people. At once they followed him. Not long after in Mark verses 19 & 20 Jesus calls two more blokes.

The call to follow Jesus was not some casual thing where you could come and go as you please, not if you were committed. The ministry of Jesus lasted 3 years, but if he was a normal Rabbi just doing the cultural/religious thing, the disciples would have followed longer. Another thing which we find hard to grasp in our culture today is the intensity of their journey to making disciples themselves. They would have spent many hours with Jesus. Praying, eating, resting, talking, walking and all the rest, (as well as the amazing stories that we read in the Gospels) all with the purpose of learning as much as they could from the one who called them. They were learning to be like Jesus.

The Hebrew word for disciple is talmid. This word stresses the relationship between rabbi (teacher or master) and disciple (student). A talmid of Jesus’ day would give up his entire life in order to be with his teacher. The disciple didn’t only seek to know what the teacher knew, as is usually the case today. It was not enough just to know what the rabbi said, but the foremost goal of any talmid was to become like the rabbi and do what the rabbi did. – That the world may know.com

How powerful is that definition and description of the word Talmid! I have read it a number of times over the last month and the more I read it, the more I see that I am far from the type of disciple I would like to be. As I have been reflecting on my own level of commitment to Jesus Christ and hearing other peoples faith journeys over the years, I have come to the understanding that there are more Christian bystanders than passionate disciples in the body of Christ today. It seems that many would rather follow Christ at a distance.

We are to count the cost of following Christ when we hear his call. When we read what Jesus says in Luke about being a Disciple  , it would be easy to throw our hands in the air and walk away feeling completely defeated because its all to hard. We all know Christians who believe in Jesus, but when it comes to the thought of walking more closely, well that’s another story. Look at the types of people that Jesus Christ called in the gospel. We would all fit in real good with that bunch.

Being a bystander in the body of Christ is far more costly than being a talmid. If we are a Christian and spend time getting to know Christ we will see that he was way more than just a spectator. He invited his disciples out of their comfort zones to participate in his ministry as well. The church is not in the dark about how we should go about living.

Choosing to live as less than a disciple in the kingdom of God is not a salvation issue, its a relationship one. A relationship with the one who calls us to follow him, the author of our faith, the one who lived, died and was resurrected to show us a way and restore us and our relationship with God. It would make sense to walk more closely with the one who has done all that. When we decide to play it safe and watch on from our comfortable positions, we miss out on experiencing the peace of God, we fail to understand the spiritual blessings that we have been given and we often live as if we were never born again.

There needs to be a change of culture in our congregations that see people from all walks of life becoming more intentional about following Jesus. So I encourage you who are already working out what it means to be a talmid, to seek out those in your Christian communities who appear to be disengaged, and invite them with you on the journey of the Christian journey.

Thanks for reading and as always, if you found anything that you have read helpful, or have your own insights, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “The cost of Bystanders

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  1. Hi Dave,

    Interesting post. I am wondering though about your concept, and if you think we ought to be more committed to the Lord Jesus Christ or to the churches as institutional organisations?

    You use words that I am not totally familiar with in relation to relating to the Lord Jesus, such as “being intentional”. Not sure what you’re getting at when you use that phrase.

    I understand that God really wants us to submit ourselves totally to Him and to obey and follow Him. I understand that in the church setting we find lots of “cultural Christianity” whereby people are frequently happy to just turn up, sit and listen, and then go on with their ordinary lives.
    I know that God keeps calling to His true followers to give up worldly behaviour and pursuits in order to “die to self” more and more as time goes by. I believe that the Lord would have us interact with people in our homes and lives in a deeper, more natural way than the institutional church settings and meetings allows. Jesus said,

    “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For MY YOKE is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

    So yes, true believers need to be YOKED to Jesus Christ. Think of two cattle or horses ploughing a field, one is more experienced, and the inexperienced one, being yoked to the other learns how to do the job.

    You say that there needs to “be a change in culture in our congregations” and I understand the frustration of being yoked with lots of folks who are in such situations who appear worldly and half-hearted and uncommitted to the Lord. And guess what, that is because many are not born-again and are just cultural Christians! Therein lies much frustration for the real, dying-to-self, born-again, obedient follower of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    God bless,
    Helen

    Liked by 2 people

    1. G’day Helen, thanks for commenting.

      My post is about being committed to Jesus. We are the body of Christ, the church, and being committed also to a Christian community/congregation I would say is beneficial for the person who is born again as well.

      When I say we need to be intentional when it comes to our relationships with Jesus, I just mean that Christians need to more deliberate and purposeful with how they engage with the bible, their prayer life and spiritual growth.

      I think in the “church setting” there is a great mix of cultural Christians and others who are as you call them “true followers” and this is nothing new. I am certain this mix existed when Jesus was around and will always be. There will always be a need for people to come along side other members of our Christian communities who are less mature in their faith or who going through a rough time, to walk with them, listen to them and encourage them. This kind of discipleship can happen anywhere which is fantastic. How good is God!

      A change in the culture of our congregations – I think here in Australia, and no doubt other western countries as well there has been more of a focus on quantity not quality. More bums on seats, more participants in our programs and so on. I am suggesting that there needs to be a change of focus and more energy needs to be put into helping people grow in their faith. Not just telling people they need to read the word but show them, not just telling people they need to grow, but challenge and walk with them. Jesus would of done this. This culture change really must start with those who have the most authority as often they are the ones who played a role in the creating culture that already exists.

      We all have a role to play

      Like

  2. “There needs to be a change of culture in our congregations that see people from all walks of life becoming more intentional about following Jesus.”
    I’ve felt this on my heart for ages and have recently been getting ‘alongside’ with those that appear to be disengaged to encourage them to continue pursuing a relationship with Jesus. Awesome words of wisdom, Dave. Thank you for sharing!
    Hayley 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Howdy Haley, thanks for dropping by!

      That’s fantastic that your keen on this stuff, good on ya! Are there many others in your community that you can work with or chat to about it more kind of thing? It’s hard to do it alone as you have already probably experienced. Check out http://multiplymovement.com/ i reckon you will find it helpful. Let me know how you go. Hope you had a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for this Dave, I’ll check it out. I’m blessed to say, our church is known for being very caring and encouraging so I’m definitely not on my own,
        Will get back to you once I’ve read it.
        Blessings. Hayley 😊🙏

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I was going to say something but your comment Anna is deep. Just too deep to ignore. Unfortunately we see more of public righteousness around us. Like Evad said I’m challenging myself to stay on track and bring as many as I can to the right track. Evad you said something sometime ago that has stuck with me. Many are followers of Christ but few are disciples. There is a lot to think about in this post. Sorry if my comment is all over the place. My mind is deep in thoughts regarding this. Blessings to you bro. Fully charged for the week!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks for dropping by Efau, I really hope your new job is going well.

        There is already so much written about this subject so I am glad this is nothing new, and its also sad that it is nothing new and its still a problem in the church. Lots to learn about God, ourselves and others.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really appreciated reading this 🙂 I get confused on what can we share with believers and what should we hold back sometimes because I do not want to be a stumbling block to others. However, when you shared that Jesus did make the disciples uncomfortable, not to be mean, but to help them grow, it is encouraging and comforting to me. I want to speak in love, and that also includes topics that may make others uncomfortable. Just because we make others uncomfortable does not mean we are unkind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. G’day Tracey Rice, thanks for dropping by!

      I’m glad you got something out of it. It’s important stuff and I remember you blogged about something similar not that long ago which was really good. Its fascinating cause we seem to forget a lot a lot about those in the body and focus all our energy on reaching people who are not yet Christians. I totally get it but then we wonder why there is no legit growth within the body and just assume that Christians are growing and know how to pray and study the word. Know what I mean?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely understand what you are saying. That’s why my calling is for believers. 🙂 I know scripture warns about believers knowing God and then turning away. That scripture always lays on my heart, and pushes me forward. I know speaking about uncomfortable things may make people feel I am being rude or unkind. I’m not trying to be. God’s reminded me what is more important, caring about things people say that aren’t true, or pushing people further so they can be with Christ at the end of their life because of their relationship with Him.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I so appreciate your explanation of how discipleship worked culturally during Christ’s day! It helps me better understand (within the context of the day) why He said some of the things He said to His disciples about doing the works that He did. Outstanding post, Dave!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi there Lynn, thanks for your comment, good to hear from you!

      I have been reading lots and watching a some interesting videos on the subject, really eye opening. Does that kind of stuff interest you? I appreciate your feedback and glad you got something out of it.

      Like

  5. “We are to count the cost of following Christ when we hear his call.” Great post Evad! I do believe that there is a certain amount of misinformation among Christians today. Many come into the faith believing that God is a insta genie who will cause troubles to be far removed from them. There is no following Jesus and picking up your cross or facing losses in this form of Christianity – in fact, don’t even mention losses. Once persecution or troubles arise, they quickly fall away or give into the expectations of society. If we look into the Bible not one man or woman of the faith went without fiery trials. God sends these trials to test us but also to purify and perfect our faith. I believe that once God truly touches your heart you cannot just be a bystander, being a bystander with the spirit of God burning on the inside of you is a painful thing. I truly agree with your statement – the cost of being a bystander is far greater than that of being an active Talmid of Christ! Thanks for your inspirational and convicting read!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Being a bystander in the body of Christ is far more costly than being a talmid. If we are a Christian and spend time getting to know Christ we will see that he was way more than just a spectator.” Our apathy and indifference creates fertile ground for the enemy to work. Very wise words to heed!

    Liked by 1 person

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