The Christian life is immersion. It's seeing. And belonging. And becoming what God has already made us to be in Christ. Christian discipleship takes:
Spiritual growth and authenticity rise from the coordinated work of the Holy Spirit, preachers of the Word, and hearers of the Word. God initiates. He is always at work in us and it's God who empowers us to grow spiritually. God is preached—in Nature, verbally, in writing, through the Arts, and by example. And the hearer engages with Him in ways the Apostle Paul compares to disciplining one's body (1 Cor. 9:27) and running a race to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). Preachers and hearers are participants in God’s sovereign activity.
Our faith journey can develop unevenly and with gaps. It's easy to focus on a few areas and to neglect others. Here, you are encouraged to assess your everyday life using five signals. Five gauges. To mature in each is to grow deeper into Christ (Col. 2:6-7) and to grow upward into his fullness (Eph. 4:11-16).
- PURSUIT — Worship God. Seek God and respond to him with reverence, wonder, and awe. "God is great. God is good. God is near."
- DISCIPLINE — Attach to Jesus. Receive and take hold of everything God has given you in Christ Jesus. "Good stewards of God's grace." 1
- FORMATION — Live from the Kingdom. Explore and adapt to your identity in Christ and to the culture of God's kingdom. "People like us do things like this." 2
- IMITATION — Love the world. Venture into the world around you, as a bearer of God-like love. "We so love the world that we give."
- MISSION — Persuade others. Purposefully invest in the development of people and every sphere of culture. "Our story for God's glory."
We can also think of these as five colleges to be enrolled in for a lifetime; five story lines of our life to be noticed, recorded, reflected upon, and assessed.
Disciples of Jesus grow in every gauge over a lifetime; we never grow past any of them. Movement won’t be seen in a day or a week. But if we're paying attention, we should see growth over months and years. Even better, others will notice that growth in us.
Every gauge is important. But energy, sustained passion, authenticity, and credibility flow from center to circumference—from PURSUIT to MISSION. It's like building a five-story structure: every floor is important, but unfinished lower floors must be in place to support the unfinished upper floors. Operating in any gauge, without paying attention to the more central gauges, can lead to exhaustion, wrong motives, worldly patterns of behavior, and idolatry. 3
The pages ahead describe each gauge. A few self-reflection questions are provided to help you interact with the gauge and to see trends over time. Devotional questions can be kept in the back of your mind as you read Scripture or listen to a sermon. And the suggested next steps may help you apply the gauges to daily life.
1 The word 'grace' used here to mean: God's unmerited favor; the God-given desire, ability, and resources to participate in God's economy (purpose, plan, activity) as his sons and daughters. 2 Seth Godin, This Is Marketing, ©2018 pp. 102-113 3 Idolatry in this context doesn't mean worshiping rocks or statues. It means depending on something or someone—more than on God—for our purpose, our provision, or our security. Discern these tendencies by noticing what makes you anxious or what gets most of your attention and energy.