Ron Johnson and Joe Beckler lead a local network called “Breakthrough.” Great network, great content, great leaders. Last week we sat down with Kyle Strobel to hear his thoughts about spiritual formation. Who is Kyle? A couple of masters degrees, a PhD, a brainiac and Lee Strobel’s son. A guy passionate about Christ.
Here are some highlights from his talk:
1) Christians still dichotomize Jesus and Paul. Jesus talked “discipleship,” Paul talked “adoption.” Jesus talked “Kingdom,” Paul talked, “In Christ.”
2) Modern discipleship language uses external terms, but it is an internal process. Also, we are far too forensic with our discipleship language. The gospel is ultimately to be experienced, not analyzed.
3) Eugene Peterson is a model pastor for our times as he stood in the gap between professional theologians and church people.
4) So many discipleship principles are used to improve self, but the end of discipleship is ALWAYS Christ. So the end is always the presence of God, not the improvement of self or character.
5) Is the goal of discipleship to “become like Christ” or is it to have “Christ formed in you?”
6) If your discipleship habits work without Christ, they are not discipleship, they are self improvement.
Kyle was very provocative and openly critiqued some of the more renowned discipleship “gurus” of our time. Still, I can embrace his bottom line (yeah, let’s not go taking that line out of context!) His bottom line is all discipleship practices, habits, approaches, discussions should always end with the presence of Christ and Christ’s work in and through you. He offered a worthy caution not to take self improvement practices and “baptize” them to be useful in the church.
Perhaps on this beautiful Friday morning, his summary is a good reminder, “Discipleship is not about the improvement of character, it is about the presence of Christ.”
peace of Christ on you today