the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it...so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
— 1 John 1:2a,3b

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:

Coordination.

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.

Balance.

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).

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  1. PURSUIT — Seek God and respond to him with reverence, wonder, and awe.

  2. DISCIPLINE — Receive and take hold of everything God has given you in Christ Jesus.

  3. FORMATION — Explore and adapt to your identity in Christ and the culture of God's kingdom.

  4. IMITATION — Venture into the world around you, as a bearer of God-like love.

  5. MISSION — Purposefully invest in the development of others.

 

Movement.

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.

There are no experts in the company of Jesus. We are all beginners.
— Eugene Peterson

Energy.

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, Christ its foundation: 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.1

 

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 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.