In this series, I’m breaking down each phrase of Greg Ogden’s definition of a disciple so we can see what it really means to follow Jesus. Ogden’s states,
“A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Following Jesus is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.”
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Even though our salvation is immediate upon responding in faith to Jesus’ sacrifice, it takes a lifetime to conform our lives to his example. Following Jesus is what Eugene Peterson refers to as “a long obedience in the same direction.” Responding in faith to the call to follow Jesus means we enter into a pattern of recreating our lives to look more like his.
Almost every metaphor for spiritual growth in the Bible is a gardening one. That’s because growth takes time, and much of it is out of our control. Just like with gardening, we will experience seasons of growth, seasons of drought, and times of harvest. There will be times to celebrate and times to grieve.
If you’re feeling exhausted or disappointed with your spiritual growth, then take heart. You’re in the same boat as everyone else. We’re all in the process of killing off sin patterns while cultivating new life-giving ones. That’s not going to happen overnight.
Crockpot Faith in a Microwave World
The slow process of spiritual growth can make us frustrated when we’re used to Amazon bringing whatever we want to our doorstep within two days. We’re programmed to want immediate satisfaction, but that’s simply not how spiritual growth works. We all want a microwaveable faith, but the one we’ve been given is a crockpot faith. Low and slow is the key—and it’s how you get that unmistakable flavor of someone that has simmered in Christ.
As followers of Jesus, what we’re after is a life that’s more and more obedient to Jesus each and every day—even if we have trouble seeing the change each day.
And the good news is, we’re promised that God will see through the growth he has started in us. This is what the Apostle Paul means when he writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6 ESV). Even though we’re guaranteed to screw things up along the way, God will see through the work he started in us when he saved us.
That process unfolds over a lifelong process. But what does the process consist of? Dying to self while allowing Christ to come alive in us. That’s what we’ll cover in part 5, as we wrap up this series.