What does discipleship look like in 2021?
We can all agree that so far 2021 has been a year of unpredictability, of change, and of challenge. It’s safe to say that everyone has faced some sort of struggle, so how do we continue to be Jesus’s ambassadors, sharing the good news with the nations and spurring one another on? What does discipleship look like in 2021?
It looks like: striving to love like Christ
Philippians is like a love letter. Paul’s love for the believers isn’t shallow and an outward show but a deep affection rooted in the Lord Jesus.
He writes, “I long for you with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8). He thanks them for sharing in his troubles (Philippians 4:14). There is an emotional connection between them. That’s the kind of church Paul wants us to be creating. Not just pretending to care about others but feeling their pain almost as if it's our own and giving as generously to them as we’d give to ourselves.
We need to talk to our brothers and sisters and understand what effect the pandemic has had on them and ask for God’s help as we seek to love them like Christ loves his flock.
It looks like: being confident in Christ
“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Paul was in prison, bound to a Roman guard, uncertain of his life, but he was wholeheartedly confident in Christ.
Paul could have this peace even whilst he was chained up in prison because he had complete confidence that God, who began a good work in the people of Philippi, would carry it on to the day of Christ Jesus, whether Paul was there or not. And that applies to us too, whether we are discipling people or being discipled, we can have full confidence in Christ.
As we adjust, yet again, to a “new normal” — building up our tolerance for time out of the house and trying to remember how to have conversations — we can rest and rejoice that God is still working in our brothers and sisters. The Lord will not abandon his people, that includes you if you are a believer.
It looks like: being content in Christ
It’s amazing that Paul can say, “I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12) even when his life seemed desperately bleak.
After a year of uncertainty and insecurity with jobs and finance, we can still have peace. It doesn’t mean that those things won’t affect us but it does mean, like Paul, we can learn to be content whatever the circumstances because of Jesus. He shows us the joy in the now and gives us hope for what is to come.
“To live is Christ, to die is gain.’
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