The one question I ask myself the most often

Here is a copy of an email I sent to our church family today.

Dear ::first_name::

I know last week, I said I wouldn’t be doing a weekly update, however, I felt really compelled to share with you my one question I ask myself the most often.

Discipleship or probably a better word apprenticeship is the process of not only doing ‘stuff’ for Jesus (a robot can do that, and let’s be honest probably better) but become like him. Yes, true apprenticeship is about being shaped into the likeness of our master. As a result, there is one question that I ask myself really frequently and it has helped me to dig below the surface of skin-deep religion and trite cliches. The question is designed to help turn my attention away from all the ways this world would have me evaluate myself and to look afresh at the simple process of becoming more and more like Jesus. Often this will involve small, almost unnoticeable changes in my attitudes or affections, however, to be truly like Jesus means to have a heart that thinks, feels and longs like Him. So what’s the question?

“If discipleship (or apprenticeship) is about becoming more and more like Jesus, what is it he wants to change or transform in me right now?”

When I’ve asked people this question, one common deflection that I’ve noticed is pointing to some simple ‘doings’ and not allowing the question to get down into your heart motivations (or ‘beings’). For example “I need to read the Bible more”. Yes, you probably do, but allow the question to get below that and ask “why you find it so difficult to read the Bible?” Is it because you’ve filled your life up with a thousand and one other distractions? Is it because there is a more profound heart issue that needs dealing with, essentially finding Jesus and his ways, a little boring? Is it because when you read the bible and then look at your life you see a chasm between the life you’ve been called to and what you actually live, and it’s just too painful to observe so you keep the Bible closed? Is it because there are relational issues that you know if you start reading the Bible will get challenged and you just don’t want to go there? Are there idols of insecurity and the need to be needed that have propelled you to live busy and frantic lives, which mean you just don’t have time to read the Bible? Can you see how by letting the question get a little deeper it may well uncover some more important heart motivations that need changing? This is the true process of discipleship because the heart is the compass or source of all our actions (Luke 6:45; Matt 12:34; Prov 4:23; Prov 21:2)

So here’s my challenge, why not make it your goal to ask this one question on a weekly basis for the next six weeks and see what happens. Maybe you could turn it into a habit or ritual by asking it on the same day of the week (e.g. every Monday). I would encourage you to use a journal so that what you are learning gets noted and you can refer back to it. Finally, allow the answers to become the fuel for prayers of repentance and prayers for power to change and be conformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus. 

Friends, when we start meeting back together again ‘in-person’ wouldn’t it be amazing if we all saw more and more of the likeness of Jesus in one another because we hadn’t wasted this time of restriction and lockdown but rather put it to good use to grow as apprentices of Jesus.

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