The Road Less Traveled: From Christian to Disciple (1 Corinthians 2:15)
or Why People Don’t Want to Mature in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
“Life is hard,” are the first words in a book that everyone needs to read. The Road Less Traveled by Dr. Scott Peck has been out for many years, but the truths are enduring. If you haven’t read it, you need to. I know life is hard. I travel a road in my head with few passersby. I contemplate many thoughts, both theological and secular, trivial and spectacular. Many times I know what needs to happen, but don’t have a clue about why it doesn’t.
Church participation is one of them. Why people don’t grow in Christ is a mystery to me. I know people are busier than they have ever been. For younger people, building a business and growing a family, are first priority in their lives and it should be. They know that church is a key piece of that puzzle, but where does it fit in with an already busy life? The Christian life isn’t for the fainthearted.
The major problem is that life is so crazy that church is seen as a safe place to kick back and enjoy a few minutes of solitude and encouragement. Then a pastor double-crosses them by asking them to participate in ministry that adds more stress to their world. Ministry asks them to travel a road where they have never gone before.
What is a busy family to do? The hard truth of the matter is that a well organized church and the christian life are the answers to the chaos and challenges facing families. But how do you plug into church and how do you balance what’s going on at home. Many times talented people feel guilty because they have been touched by God’s encouraging grace, but have enough on their plate already.
I didn’t know that I was heading down that road less traveled at first. I began a deeper walk with God almost out of desperation. I just began to do one simple thing: I began to take Biblical authority over the chaos in my life. It didn’t take but a minute to utter words of faith over the issues of my life, but when I did, I began to move from just being a Christian, to being in training for a Disciple.
The first step in that journey was the unconscious move from just making Jesus my Saviour, to making Jesus Lord of my life. And that made all the difference starting me on my road less traveled.
Consider the chart below.
The goal of the church is to make all persons Disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20 No, not the denomination). But how do we get there? It’s a journey. Paul describes three types of people in his letters to the Corinthians. He first talks about the Natural Man who is the unsaved person. He then talks about the Carnal Christian and lastly, the Spiritual Christian. My personal goal as a Christian is that of Disciple.
First, we all start off as the Natural Man (1 Corinthians 2:14), that’s the unsaved person. But, somehow through prayers of others and the beneficent will of God, we get saved. Now there are plenty of Natural (unsaved) people who attend church. Don’t be fooled. I attended church for many years before I got saved. My parents (God bless them!) made to come to church as a kid until God’s grace broke through my heart and I walked the aisle at age twelve. Then when I was in the Army, I saw Natural (unsaved) people come to chapel because that was the thing to do, plus attendance at funerals and weddings. Natural people have no clue of whats really going on; sermons and the Bible makes no sense to them.
I didn’t know this as a new Christian, but my goal is ultimately to be a disciple of God. But unfortunately, the vast majority of Christians stay in the entry phase that being a Carnal Man (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Carnal Christians have a pragmatic view of the scriptures because they are judging everything through their worldly senses. They cannot develop sufficiently their spiritual side. When I used to be in this phase, my thought was show me the money! In other words, if people went to the altar for healing, then show me healing, if giving was going to return some thirty, some sixty and some hundredfold, then multiply. I still had much sin failure and never understood why God didn’t swoop down and do a work in me immediately upon asking. I had enough conman sense to know I needed salvation, but not enough spiritual sense to know that I entered an entirely new realm of existence that needed to be understood in a different way. I crossed into a new phase of my Christian life when I realized I needed more. I had to let Jesus be Lord of my Life and not just my Saviour.
“Lord” means a person who has authority over others or ruler. (Matthew. 28:18- 20; Ephesians. 1:19-23; Luke 6:46) I had strongholds in my life that needed a ruler, and I wasn’t it.
One day, I decided that if I was going to have victory over areas of my life – you know that stuff the preacher was talking about – I guess I was going to have to take authority in Jesus’ name. When certain tempting unclean thoughts came into my head that I knew was wrong, I had to tell them to leave in the name of Jesus. When bills came, and I had no money, I had to take authority in Jesus’ name. I started tithing. Still in my worldly thoughts, “Jesus I’ll trust you if you really come through.” Slowly, I was crossing over into the area of spiritual man (1 Corinthians 2:15). Jesus was the Lord of my Life and not just Savior.
As a Spiritual Man, my view of the Word was more practical than pragmatic and I wanted to know the Word’s view of my life and not just the World’s view of my life. I started to overcome sin and receive a deeper revelation of God’s Word. I got baptized in the Holy Spirit. Slowly, over a period of years, I began to want to know Jesus more intimately. I wanted to know the Person who wrote such a wonderful Bible and loved me so much as to work in my life for my good. Suddenly, I wanted to know the Master Himself. I was moving on to being a Disciple.
“Disciple” means a follower, pupil, student, learner – one who adheres to the teachings of the master. (Matthew 10:24,25; 16:24) The Greek term for “disciple” in the New Testament is mathetes, which means more than just “student” or “learner.” A disciple is a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct. The Pharisees prided themselves in being disciples of Moses (John 9:28). Jesus’ followers were called “disciples” long before they were ever called “Christians.” Their discipleship began with Jesus’ call and required them to exercise their will to follow Him (Matthew 9:9).
On my way to Disciple, my view now has gone from pragmatic to practical to personal. I want to know what the Master thinks about me and other issues in His world, not mine. I want to be guided not just by the Bible, but by the Holy Spirit in my daily life. I just don’t want to have authority over problems in my life, I want to reign with Him in my daily life. I don’t want to just understand His Word to us, but I want to understand the Logos Word, Jesus. And after being saved some fifty years, baptized in the Holy Ghost some forty years ago, and being ordained some thirty five years ago, I have faltered on the way. I have much, much more to go. Please don’t misunderstand: I haven’t attained anything (Philippians 3:14). But I want to go on with God.
Why some don’t go on with God even at a basic level is a mystery to me. There are those who sit on the sidelines in church because I guess that’s just what they do. They have done it for years. They have stayed the same for their entire Christian life. Yet, there are others who want to move on. If you compare it to education, there are people who have attended church 40 years and still are in the first grade. Why, because they are either unsaved or just content to be on the sidelines of Christian life. Some people won’t like reading this, but it is true. As Paul wrote, you still need milk instead of meat.
I know that it is difficult and a struggle for busy young families to grow in Christ. But started out almost unconsciously out of desperation because I knew that something had to change. It’s not too late to start down that road less traveled.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.