Each Tuesday evening our group of disciples has dinner together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This past week during our table discussion there was a frank honesty about our childhoods and how each of us had felt like we had not belonged anywhere while growing up. We had lived a detached existence.
Making followers of Jesus must be done in a group. A large part of the disciple making process is accomplished through my disciple learning how to interrelate with his brothers and sisters in the family of God. I have wondered how much of Jesus’ training of the twelve was achieved through the disciples learning how to live together for three years vs. the “classroom” instruction of Jesus. I have also wondered how much of the teaching of Jesus flowed out of the conflicts between the disciples not too dissimilar from a parent using sibling discord as a teaching moment for his children.
The essence of our God is the familial interconnectedness of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Their identity is found in the eternal love bond to the other persons of the Godhead. Because we are created in the image of God a disciple can only come to understand his identity and purpose by integrating into a family context with his heavenly Father and his spiritual siblings. In contrast, our culture pushes him toward individualism and independence, which can only lead to confusion and ultimately self-destruction.
Just as a my disciple cannot know himself or understand his giftedness apart from being in this family context, so I cannot know my disciple apart from seeing him interact with his spiritual siblings. His relationship with God is not visible to me which means he can deceive me into thinking he has a good relationship with God when in reality he may not. One way I can get a glimpse into my disciple’s relationship with the heavenly Father is through seeing how he relates to others and how others relate to him.