For my NT class, I have to read a book called "patterns of discipleship in the New Testament". I just finished the chapter on Paul's letters to the churches in Thessalonica. I am surprised at how simplistic Paul’s advice is to the Thessalonians. In our churches today we have discipleship programs. Usually they require a certain amount of time, study, reflection, action, etc. Paul says one thing in these epistles: be holy.
If Paul’s definition of a disciple is to be holy, how many people are truly Jesus’ disciples? I am not asking in a judgmental way, but seriously. Jesus said if you love me, you will obey my commands. In other words, if you love me, you will be holy. In other words, being a disciple is loving God?
It is easy to take out the holy living part of the Bible and focus on God’s grace and mercy. Unfortunately, this is what most churches do. Again, Paul’s simple advice strikes me: be holy. Do I focus too much on doing different projects or inspiring people to be holy? I guess my biggest fears with this newfound knowledge are simply that now I realize that to be and encourage disciples, we need to confront each other.
I, personally, have been challenged by these thoughts as well. I need to keep a better perspective on the things I do and shift my focus from accomplishments to holiness. It is easy to get wrapped up in the result-driven culture of the day, but that is not the best thing.
Paul calls the Thess. Churches to a higher standard in his challenge to be holy. He is not satisfied by attempts or programs. Paul tells the churches to step it up. Pure holiness is always a higher standard than our current situation. At least in this life. We can all grow, and our relationships should reflect higher standards.