Balance in Discipleship

I think discipleship is fleshed out in 4 basic, healthy ways among Christians:

1. Students (a good thing) – Meditate on God’s revelation of Himself to know Him better.
2. Singers (a good thing) – Celebrate God’s goodness to them in praise, thanksgiving, and jubilant exultation.
3. Supplicants (a good thing) – Pray for God to be glorified and people to be sanctified in every aspect of life.
4. Servants (a good thing) – Seek to reach out to the lost and needy, to be the hands and feet of Christ on earth.

Unfortunately, it is a rare thing among Christians to find all 4 of these aspects in balance.  In fact, it seems rare to me to find all four of these emphasized roughly equally in the sphere of entire denominations.  Baptist, Presbyterians, and those of the Reformed bent tend to lean toward the Student model.  Some Charismatics tend toward the Singer model.  Other Charismatics lean toward the Supplicant model.  Some denominations like the Nazarenes and the Salvation Army seem to favor the Servant model almost exclusively.  These are all good Biblical models, but there is massive flaw in each–none of these is meant to be a self-contained, holistic description of the disciple.  As always, let us look to Jesus for our model.

Jesus was obviously the ultimate Student of the Word of God, being Himself the incarnate Word of God and the Son of God, showing His supreme comprehension while still in boyhood (Luke 2:46-47).  But He did not sit at home by Himself with the Scriptures open before Him all day.

Jesus was also the ultimate Singer-Worshiper of the Father.  He corrected the faulty models of both Jews and Samaritans in His dialogue with the Samaritan woman-at-the-well in John 4 by explaining that true worship must be done in spirit and truth, having nothing to do with locale (or method or style for that matter).  Matthew 26 tells us that Jesus led His disciples in a hymn before they went to the Mount of Olives to pray before His betrayal.

Jesus was the ultimate Supplicant as well.  His disciples who had walked with Him for three years could not match His praying stamina in the moment of greatest trial (Matthew 26, Luke 22).  Prayer seemed to fuel Jesus beyond the measure of a good night’s sleep (Luke 6:12).  Of course, the obvious examples of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) and the High Priestly Prayer (John 17) show us that none other has ever prayed as He prayed.

Finally, Jesus was the ultimate Servant.  He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.  Philippians tells us that He emptied Himself (made Himself nothing) and took on the form of a servant.  And His explicit claim about His posturing among the people was that He came not to lord it over them but to be a servant and to give His own life as a ransom for many(Matthew 20:26-28).

Jesus, the ultimate Model for us in all areas of life, fully encompassed all of the roles of Student, Singer, Supplicant, and Servant.  He calls us to follow Him in being His fully devoted, well-rounder disciples.

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