Too many self-proclaimed Christians believe that maturity in Christ will happen automatically over time. They think the longer they have known Him, the more they will know about Him. None of our other relationships work this way, so why should we expect our relationship with God to be the exception? We might have the same mail delivery person for twenty years, but odds are we will never actually know them. We probably know their name and might even recognize and wave to them at the grocery store, but that is generally as deep as our relationship will ever go. Unless we make a conscious effort to understand what makes the other person tick, to share dreams and aspirations together, to help one another in a time of need – until we do those things, we can’t truly be in a relationship with them. Yet we think with God this dynamic will somehow be different. We believe that since He is God and we said a prayer to Him, our relationship will magically blossom and all will be well.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus is a very conscious choice. You can’t stumble into obedience or accidently find yourself devoted to Him. If you are not making an intentional effort every day to grow in your relationship with Christ, you will not be His disciple. Relationships require hard and often grueling work. There will be times when you are not seeing any results from your labor, and days when it might seem as if it simply isn’t worth it. But those are the times when our relationship grows the most. As we live through the struggles together we come to know one another at a deeper level and develop a truer understanding of the character of God.
Again, none of this happens by accident. If you choose to live your life without giving thought to your relationship with Christ, you will never actually develop that relationship. You can’t coast through life taking care of your daily tasks, squeezing out as much enjoyment as you can each day, say a quick prayer before falling asleep at night, and expect your relationship with God to flourish. At some point you must come to the conclusion that Jesus is the most important person in your life and that you are willing to lose everything you have as long as you can keep Jesus. Until you begin to live each day with the mindset that all of your activities, all of your thoughts, and all of your speech will be for His glory, you will not be His disciple. Disciples do and say the things their Lord does and says.
Becoming a disciple isn’t about a twelve step plan, and there are no set of actions you can do to achieve this state. There is only one step, and it was given to us by Jesus in Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” If we will do this one thing, everything else will fall into place and we will be worthy to be called His disciple. We cannot love Him in this way unless we intentionally determine to do so every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Following Jesus is a constant decision, not a onetime prayer. Every moment we are faced with the choice of being His disciple or not. Discipleship doesn’t just happen; it must be chosen.