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Discipling Economics

March 2, 2010

Heb 3:12  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Heb 3:13  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

A book that made the rounds back in the formative days of the ICOC movement was “The One Another Way”.  The book was simply a compilation of the many ‘one another’ passages in the New Testament.  While that book is now out of print, these scriptures are still in our Bibles.  Clearly the scriptures call for a kind of interaction among Christians that was then (and is now) mostly absent from our churches.  ICOC efforts to restore the ‘one another’ relationships went astray in many cases.  But the ‘one another’ scriptures are still there, calling us to a different kind of relationship.

Discipling can be viewed as a sort of economy.  There is a supply of discipling, and demand for discipling.  Traditionally, the ICOC focused much of the attention on the demand side, calling people to seek out discipling, to seek advice and to take advice.  Those are all biblical concepts.  But by far, the emphasis of scripture is on the supply side.  Here are just a few of the many examples:

(1Th 5:11)  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

(1Th 5:14)  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

(Heb 3:12-13)  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

(Heb 10:24)  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Eph 4:14-16  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.   Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.   From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Those passages address the responsibility of each Christian to build up his brothers and sisters in the faith.

In recent years, the discipling economy in many churches has been in a recession (some would say a great depression).  People have not been actively involved in each other’s spiritual lives.  Many are unemployed in the discipling economy.  As a result, many are struggling in the faith, and far too many have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  But there are still plenty of jobs in this economy.  The “government” (church leaders) cannot do all of the discipling.  To pull out of this recession, we need entrepreneurs to start new discipling endeavors.   We need to love one another, like Jesus loved his circle of disciples.  It is the God-given mission of every Christian to build up our brothers and sisters in the faith.  We have a calling, and we dare not ignore it.

Don’t let it be said that when your brother was about to fall away, you did nothing to prevent it.  Don’t let it be said that when your brother was weak, you didn’t even know.  Don’t let it be said that your brother never became all that he could have, because you didn’t encourage him to do so.  Instead, let’s become fully employed in the discipling economy.  Christianity is not a game.  The stakes could not be higher.  Let’s love one another as Christ loves us.

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2 comments

  1. Great post, Alan. I was troubled, back with the world changed in 2003, that so much of you discipling was, as you put it, focused on creating demand. It’s the lazy way of doing it, it doesn’t demand that we care enough to be involved, rather demands that people be aware enough to know they need help and then to seek it. It then allows us, when they fall away, to blame them for not seeking discipling.

    It wasn’t all that like that, but it did lean heavily that way. I remember being told in college that it was my responsibility to get discipled, after all I was the one who’d suffer without it.

    Jesus came to save, not because the world pleaded him, but because he knew we needed him.

    Of course, seeking advice is a good thing and we ought to do so, but our responsibility as Christians is to teach, correct and rebuke, even if they don’t seek it.

    You are exactly right about the state of the ‘discipling economy’ today. It’s flat, and I am as much to blame as anyone. It’s hard work and easy to ignore. Thanks for the reminder.


  2. Hi salguod! Great to hear from you again.



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