Becoming, Not Being — Signs of Life, Part 3

Lather up
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People who join a church become members. Sometimes, churches can be more concerned about what the members bring to the church than what the church can do to help its members. To prevent that error, churches need to be intentional about making disciples. Pastor Luke teaches from Colossians 3:1–17 in “Becoming, Not Being,” part 3 of his 6-part series “Signs of Life.”

Talk It Over

OPEN. 1. Would you rather have the world’s health insurance, or be so healthy you never saw a doctor? What might be attractive about the alternative?

OBSERVE. Read Colossians 3: 1–17.

1. Which comes first, according to verse 1: being saved (“raised with Christ”) or “Christian” behavior and desires? Can you still become a Christian if you’re not a very good person? Why?

2. Could you enter a marathon tomorrow and complete it? What if you decided today to enter one next year? The first instruction given to Christians in verse 2 is to change their minds. How does your mind determine your behavior (like completing a marathon)?

3. In verses 9–10, we are told to “take off” the old self and “put on” the new one. How is doing that different from training to run a marathon? (Consider v. 3.) What are some ways that it is like training?

4. Read 1 Timothy 4: 7–8. In what way is spiritual training like physical training? Why is it better? Which aspect of spiritual training is more important to you?

APPLY. 5. Pastor Luke described a model that moves from inquirer (belongs to the community), to member (trusts Christ), to disciple (growing in Christlikeness). Where are you today?

6. Do you know what is the next step in discipleship? If so, how did you find out? If not, do you know how to find out?

7. Are you ready to move forward in discipleship? If not, what is one thing preventing you that you could begin to address this week?

Food For Thought

Monday. Read Mark 1: 16–20. What does Jesus require of his followers? What is the division of labor that Jesus offers?

Tuesday. Read Ephesians 5: 1–2, 10. Can you remember a time you tried to imitate someone else, like your parents, or a friend? Why? What is the most important way to imitate God?

Wednesday. Read Matthew 16: 24–26. What makes it hard for Christians to be followers of Christ? How can this word about self-denial from Jesus be Good News?

Thursday. Read 2 Corinthians 3: 18. Why is it sometimes hard to see what God is doing to transform us? How can we find encouragement?

Friday. Read Matthew 11: 28–31. Does Jesus mean that Christians won’t face challenges? How is Jesus’ burden light?

Saturday. Read Romans 5: 1–5. What makes this passage challenging? What makes it encouraging?

Bonus (Teacher’s Pet). For Christians, belief comes before behavior (trusting Jesus before acting like a Christian). Read 2 Timothy 1: 12. In light of the demanding realities of discipleship (above), what benefits come from putting belief before behavior?

As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

 —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1937

This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.

 —Martin Luther, 1521