What motivates us to action? Why do we do the things we do? Many of us, like the above clip from The Simpsons, are simply motivated by what feels good. That is to say that we do what we want to do. Our motivations run as deep as our desire and nothing more. We saw last week that the Bible speaks of our heart as the command center of the human being. Our desires drive our actions, our hearts compel us to behaviors. Apart from Jesus, of course, our hearts are wicked and bent always towards sin, and therefore we will do sinful things. When we come to Christ, however, our hearts can be and are being transformed by the gospel. As we turn to consider, then, what it means to do discipleship we must consider that giving information is not enough, we must engage the heart! Doing this is not easy, but it is necessary and there are some guiding principles we can look at as we seek to do just that.
In Matthew 15 Jesus clarifies how our hearts produce fruit in conjunction with our desires. He says:
18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. (Matthew 15:18-20)
It is from out of our hearts that evil thoughts come. So then growth in discipleship requires hearts that are attuned to and passionate for Jesus, but that cannot be accomplished simply by running people through a program or feeding them information. We must saturate them in a culture of discipleship.
Paul David Tripp outlines several concepts that we need to keep in mind as we wrestle with the heart issue:
1. Our hearts are always being ruled by someone or something.
2. The most important question to ask when examining the heart is, “What is functionally ruling this person’s heart in this situation?”
3. Whatever controls my heart will control my response to people and situations.
4. God changes us not just by teaching us to do different things, but by recapturing our hearts to serve him alone.
5. The deepest issues of the human struggle are not issues of pain and suffering, but the issue of worship, because what rules our hearts will control the way we respond to both suffering and blessing. (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, 71)
What all of this amounts to really is the reality that discipleship is much more organic and messy than most of us like to admit. There is no formula, no curriculum, no silver-bullet method. Discipleship is a way of life, not a program in the church. Next week we will begin to unpack what this means practically speaking about how we do discipleship.