I sat down in Starbucks this morning to write something entirely different. I was going to talk about one of my writing projects. But as I was doing some reading before writing, my reading pulled me in a different direction. I was reading out of Dallas Willard’s The Great Omission, and came across this:
There is absolutely no suggestion in the New Testament that being a disciple consists of reading your Bible and praying regularly. There is a totally wrong conception of what discipleship is. It’s been presented as attending a church, reading your Bible, praying, and maybe some witnessing, and that’s it. [Many think], “I will make discipleship these ‘devotional’ times.” They would be opposed to saying, “My life is my discipleship.” Or, rather, they just wouldn’t know what that meant.
My life is my discipleship. Do you ever read a simple statement over and over again, struggling with the feeling that you don’t fully get it? I just kept reading that statement.
Discipleship is something I’ve been trying to understand for a couple years now. It has been during this time of transition in my life that I have been trying to incorporate more of the spiritual disciplines. But I have to confess, it has not always been clear to me how the disciplines, discipleship, the kingdom of God, and my life all fit together. I am slowly learning that the disciplines, in and of themselves, are not discipleship, though they may be a piece of it. Discipleship, in part, is how I let those disciplines inundate the rest of my life. My life is my discipleship.
I am realizing that it is all too easy to confuse accomplishment with discipleship. Dare I say that the drive to accomplish may be the enemy of discipleship. It is also easy to mistake devotional time with discipleship, as Willard points out. But devotional times are powerless unless we express that devotion throughout the rest of our day. God never intended us to possess such a compartmentalized faith.
So it would be easy for me to finish my coffee, feel encouraged about my reading, blog about my morning, and think, “what a great time of discipleship.” But in truth my discipleship time begins when I leave Starbucks – as I drive back to the house, as I watch football this afternoon, as I take the dog for a walk, as I pay more attention to the people who cross my path today. I become a disciple of Jesus, not when I read about him in an overstuffed chair in a coffee shop, but as I follow him out the door into the rest of my day.