Relational Discipleship, Part 1

In previous posts, we have discussed poverty and relief. When Helping Hurts states, “Poverty reaches into more of humanity than the material. There is a poverty of soul and spirit that also needs ministry.” The ministry of CAPS delights in seeing our clients find financial relief within our organization. As we stated in previous posts, “CAPS is equipped to provide the relief, but the rehabilitation and development are beyond our scope. We have a vision of our churches in Suffolk providing some of these services through their church ministries.” When our relief efforts have mended a crisis, it is immediately time to move to rehabilitation. Not only do our clients need urgent relief, they need discipleship, continuous love and support. This support helps them not to return to the elements of the pre-crisis conditions. Therefore, CAPS envisions our Suffolk churches rising up to meet this need through discipleship and pointing others to the hope of Jesus. 

Discipleship is a big word. It can be daunting. How do we disciple? What does it look like on a daily basis? First of all, we should look at one of the deepest needs of the human soul: relationship. We are created with a deep desire for connection and community. Discipleship begins through simple relationship with no agenda or strings attached. Our greatest example is our Savior coming to live among us. Philippians 2:7 says, “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Jesus humbled Himself to come and live everyday life among us as a servant. God’s beautiful plan for the disciples looked like walking through the gravel roads with Jesus each day. Why? Because His plan reflects the nature of who He is. We are made in the image of a Triune God. The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit are in constant relationship. Jesus was on earth living in relationship with His own disciples. In a world that is busier than ever, discipleship requires time and being fully present. Our resource says, “Development is not done to people or for people, but with people.” Building relationship with someone is not flashy, and is not often even noticed by others. It is not something that you can see in the spotlight. And at times, it can get really messy. Relationship may look like going to dinner, helping someone get an ID, or answering a call in the middle of the night. Encouragement, prayer, or helping with finances may be practical ways of supporting someone. There is not a formula to relationship. But, it does require genuine love, time, and being present through each season of life. 

Discipleship also requires mentoring and accountability. When a firm relationship is formed, accountability can flow from it. A relationship with trust at the center should provide a safe place for character development. Proverbs 27:27 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Iron sharpening iron is a process. This character development is not always easy, but God uses us to make each other more like Him. We have to lay down our pride, and be teachable in order to engage in this process of sanctification. We should always remember that the gospel should be at the foundation of relational accountability. When encouraging others, we always remember that we fall short every day. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit often uses the person next to you to speak into your life. Can you take the time to encourage or mentor someone this week? Discipleship may require being interruptible in order to allow the Spirit to lead us. We encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in being teachable, and to speak through you to teach others this week!

Stay tuned for Part 2….