Bible Verse: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:1-34

Yesterday we discussed Jesus’ statement that “everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). We learned that those who follow Jesus begin to see a transformation in their character and in their perspective.

A third transformation in the disciple involves a transformation in relationships. Those who follow Jesus begin to love others and serve others. Jesus both taught and modelled a lifestyle of love and ministry, radically illustrating what it means to be other-centered, including relating to those who are most vulnerable and who are most unlovable. As disciples are transformed in character and perspective, their relationships are also transformed. Disciples of Jesus are “in communion” with one another. Our relationships are not perfect, but we keep working on them. We keep learning what it means to love one another, and we keep learning how to extend the love of Jesus to those who need it most.

Another transformation in the disciple is a natural consequence of the change in character, perspective and relationships – a transformation of lifestyle. Followers of Jesus begin to have a different set of priorities than they used to have and therefore they begin to act differently than they did before. Jesus told his disciples, for example, that they could seek the kingdom of God first, that they could quit worrying, that they could store up treasures in heaven and that they could turn the other cheek. Over time, disciples begin to build their lifestyle around the priorities of Jesus. Simply put, they begin to act differently.

Now, it is not an accident that I have placed this transformation last. Often we look for this transformation first – and I think that is a mistake. In fact, I think our tendency to expect immediate changes in behaviour become a barrier to some people following Jesus. They think: “I can’t act like those Christians. I won’t even try.” Let me say two things about that. First, followers of Jesus are changed from the inside out, not from the outside in. And second, it is Jesus who changes you. It is not about what you can do – it is about what Jesus will do. You just need to decide whether you are going to say “yes” to the invitation of Jesus to follow him.

Now, no doubt Andrew and Simon and the other early disciples did not fully recognize the implications of their decision to follow Jesus. But then that can be said of all of us. After all, discipleship is a process, not a destination. It is a lifelong pursuit which impacts all of life. Let me say that again – being a disciple does not start at conversion and end at some defined or undefined state of maturity. Being a disciple is a lifelong pursuit which impacts all of life, day by day.

— David Freeman, Promise Keepers Canada

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