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Marrying Jesus: Why Saying a Prayer is not Enough

Perhaps the biggest deception the western church has perpetuated is the idea that becoming a follower of Jesus is a one-time decision that may or may not affect anything else about your life. In reality, the invitation Jesus gives to those who are considering it requires a life-long commitment towards attaining a more profound intimacy. Below are five mind-shifts I think we need to make when we talk about discipleship, salvation, confession, etc.

Myth #1 // You can be a Christian without being a radical disciple

SHIFT: Radical discipleship is assumed by Jesus every time

There is never a half way moment with Jesus. He was always creating forks in the road for people who were ready to follow him to determine whether or not they were willing to give up everything to do so. If you remove radical discipleship from the equation, what you have is something that looks very different than the thing Jesus invites us into.

Myth #2 // Becoming a disciple is an event that happens

SHIFT: Becoming a disciple is a journey that begins

‘Salvation’ is possibly the most misunderstood idea in western Christianity. We have suggested to people that closing your eyes, bowing your head, and saying a prayer causes immediate transformation; the more biblical idea is that your journey toward holistic transformation begins in the moment you decide to follow Jesus.

Myth #3 // We invite Jesus to go with us wherever we go

SHIFT: Jesus invites us to follow Him wherever He goes

I’ve been using this language for a while now because I think it is one of the most destructive ideas we’ve taught. We have many common phrases to blame like ‘ask Jesus into your heart’, ‘make Jesus Lord’ or ‘invite Him into your life’. Inviting Jesus to sit in the cockpit with you is much different than letting Him decide whether or not to even get on the plane.

Myth #4 // Spiritual Formation is linear like a college degree program

SHIFT: Spiritual Formation is experiential like a marriage

Lindsay and I have been together for 12 years and I have grown in intimacy with her exponentially over those years. I know her much better than I did all those years ago. Even though I told her I loved her back then, I love her on such a more profound level now. We didn’t follow any specific intimacy strategy – we just lived life together. This is what spiritual formation looks like.

Myth #5 // External action demonstrates forward progress

SHIFT: Internal unrest partnered with external action demonstrates forward progress

It is possible to judge ourselves and other people based on how much external kingdom action we are taking. Generally speaking, if a person is attending worship services, serving, active in a small group, tithing, and living a moral life we tend to think of them as spiritually healthy. But you can actually do all of those things without having a heart submitted to Jesus, responsive to His Spirit. A more biblical measurement is to discern whether or not the Holy Spirit is disrupting our internal mechanisms like selfishness, pride, greed, rage, lust, and so on. Is the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us? Or are we trying to manufacture it so that we can feel and appear spiritually healthy.


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