The lifelong journey of discipleship

Discipleship is not a “once and done” decision but a lifelong journey, by one degree of glory to another, as we become more and more fully conformed to the character and ways of Christ.

You can think of it as a lifelong process of transformation, a journey from the person you were (dead in your sins on a dead end road to a destiny separated from God) to the person God has always known you to be (fully alive in every way on a road that leads all the way home to the Father’s house where you live forever knowing fully even as you are fully known).

You can think of discipleship as a journey that not only takes but makes a lifetime. And it happens over time. 

Gaining God’s perspective on your life and time is essential to seeing ourselves and our own lifelong discipleship properly. We tend to think in choros time. Time from conception through a series of annual birthdays, and a life marked by months and years, with all the highs and lows, celebrations and disappointments, failures and achievements along the way. But God sees our life as an eternal story. Consider your life from God’s perspective. 

  • God conceived of you before the foundations of the earth. 
  • Before you were ever born, God provided everything necessary for your salvation
  • At just the right time, God knit you together in your mother’s womb. 
  • In every moment, God has poured out his blessings, provision and grace…
  • Along the way of your life, God has revealed Himself at various times and in various ways. 
  • All along God has been seeking and wooing you, offering a relationship with Himself. Whether you know it or not, acknowledge it or not, God is keeping you right now, sustaining your life. 
  • Whether you want it or not, God loves you. 
  • Whether you want Him to or not, God see you. 
  • Whether you love Him or not, God is preparing a place for you
  • In divine appointment after divine appointment, God has been seeking to get your attention, inviting you to turn from your ways to His. 
  • Right now, God offers His Holy Spirit to you and is ready to bring the work He began in you one degree closer to completion. With that thought and that breath, in this moment, God is present and desires to do the work in you that moves you closer to Himself.  
  • God is patiently waiting for you to cooperate with His Spirit and His plans. God is inviting you to turn, submit, yield, rest, walk by faith, grow in grace…all the way home to Himself and His house, forever. 

When you consider God’s eternal perspective on your life, how does your perspective on discipleship and the journey of your own discipleship change? 

Discipleship begins when an individual responds in faith to Jesus’ invitation to “follow me.” We think of it as a conversion story and we describe it as being reborn. And on that re-birthday a lifelong journey of growing in grace, maturing in Christ, begins. That journey is lifelong and includes: 

  • Responding in obedience to Jesus’ command to “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden”
  • Responding in obedience to Jesus’ command to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me”
  • Responding in obedience to Jesus’ command to “take up your cross daily and follow me”
  • Responding in obedience to Jesus’ command to love one another, forgive, and make disciples
  • Responding in obedience to all that Jesus has commanded until He comes again (either to take you home individually or to inaugurate His reign in the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven at the consummation of all things)

Discipleship is a lifelong response to the moment by moment pursuit of God. That’s right. God is pursuing you in every moment. The question is, how are you responding to God’s presence, interest, ways and will? 

How are you intentionally engaging with God as a disciple of Jesus today? 

  • Are you conformed to this world or being transformed by the renewing of your mind?
  • Are you In the Word of God, allowing the Word of God to get into you?
  • Are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?
  • Are your eyes up with your heart set on the things of God, attention and mind set above where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father?
  • Are you trusting moment by moment for daily bread, forgiveness, facing temptation, deliverance? 
  • Are you cooperating moment by moment with the Holy Spirit, allowing God to bring you into greater and greater conformity with Christ by one degree of glory to another? 
  • Are you growing in grace today as you pursue the character and ways of God, walking by faith, with the eyes of an enlightened heart given over to the redemptive power of God who is all in all? 

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re no longer 180 degrees off the mark. Chances are, you have turned in the direction of God. But sanctification takes a lifetime and if you’re reading this, there’s still work to be done. The good news is that God does the work! 

Think of it this way…

Consider this way of thinking about your lifelong journey of discipleship. We begin on the left side of the diagram, 180 degrees from wholeness, faithfulness, fullness, at home with and in Christ as a person fully conformed to His character and ways. The initial turn is essential but it is just the first step. Conversion is the beginning of the journey, not the end. 

Sanctification is by one degree of glory to another, over time, until we have come full circle to the fullness of the glory of God.

Where are you on the journey of discipleship? 

What needs to change right now in order that you might make a one degree turn today more in the direction of God’s ways? Have that conversation with God right now and ask Him to do the work necessary for you to abide more deeply today in Christ. Agree with God and cooperate with the present power of His Holy Spirit who is ready right now to do the work within you to deepen and sweeten your relationship today with the Lord. 

Glad to be on this journey with you as a fellow disciple of Jesus—all the way home to the Father’s house. 

Take the next step: Resource list for practical ways to grow in discipleship

Dave Buehring,, A Discipleship Journey

Todd Hunter and The Center for Formation, Justice and Peace and the Telos Collective

Alfonso Espinosa, Faith that Engages the Culture

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

James K. A. Smith, You are what you love

Justin Early, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction