In a recent conversation with my 80 year old father-in-law, who is a new Christian, I shared with him the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which I have held close to my heart since my teenage days: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.
In the church, we tend to talk more often about glorifying God and much less about enjoying God in daily life. The call to follow Jesus presupposes salvation i.e. that a person has believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior and continues to believe in Him. And following Jesus is not easy ─ He demands our exclusive, complete and single-minded loyalty. However, this often gives the impression that discipleship is an experience akin to an unwilling slave being led away at the end of a chain.
Indeed, while in my years of following Jesus I have experienced times of intimacy and joy, I have also sometimes felt cheerless and distant. Busy-ness with God’s work or church activities guaranteed neither restedness nor joy. There were even times when I hardly prayed and never touched the Bible except to complete my Bible study “homework”. In those seasons I was not fellowshipping with Jesus, let alone enjoying Him.
The church at large, with its emphasis on conferences, seminars, study groups, aims mostly to inform the mind with the Truth. Of course, knowing about God is important, but it is not the same thing as knowing God. May I suggest that in our discipleship journey, we regularly do things to enjoy Jesus with our heart too. Some suggestions are to go for a “walk and talk” on the beach with Jesus, or to cry and complain to him about your hurts, or sing praise songs in the car, or to go to sleep each night with his name on your lips. Try doing these things regularly and see what happens.
The pastor-author John Piper likes to say “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”. I long for this to be a reality in my life. If Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), then the journeying with, discovery of and enjoyment of God are entwined in the experience of discipleship.
Let me end by quoting Jesus on the essence of discipleship (Matthew 11:28-30, Amplified Bible):
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”
Let us pray that our lives of discipleship could be a daily response to this beautiful and blessed promise.
By Aaron Lee, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 27&28 May 2017)