There are two forms of discipleship in the church today. The predominant program emphasizes what may one day be possessed through hard work and uses guilt to manipulate the disciple through constantly comparing him with successful others who have arrived. The approach less often utilized reveals what a believer already possesses, stressing things to be experienced through His work today, stirring action through understanding of the love and compassion of God. It is unfortunate that the former agenda reigns in Christendom today.
It is worthwhile to examine the differences between these approaches to discipleship. In the former, success is determined by grand accomplishments: numbers, individual decisions, buildings, giving, programs, attendance, passages memorized, rules kept, levels of separation, submission gained, and devotion to structure. Exaltation, superiority, and authority are the buzzwords, not equality. Discipleship takes the form of a mold that can make parrots of those deemed superior in discipline, while God’s loving hand in the lives of the weak, defeated, and failing is never considered. Neither are these seen as cherished traits: the desire to wait on God while receiving nothing, the giving of a kind word when slandered or misunderstood, nor the ability to love the unlovable. A full notebook and head of knowledge are preferred to a heart full to overflowing. Knowledge of the Bible takes precedence over knowledge of the Author. Law of and for the earth is more valuable than grace originating in heaven. Disciples are equipped only to see the steps needed to secure God but remain ignorant of God’s work to secure them. They are continually taught how to change, yet remain untutored regarding the secret of the expanding life, His life, which is already possessed. These disciples are in the bondage of comparison, never enjoying their youth in the Lord. Soul and spirit are not divided, leading them to believe that great talent, intellect, and ability will equal both great spiritual power and pleasure to God. Slow, steady, natural growth is abandoned for the promised one-time fix. The person in charge sets the standard for success in anyone’s walk with God, using his own experiences and attainments as the standard rather than God’s allowance for individualistic success. Many are the victims of legalistic discipleship.