The answer is discipleship

Whatever your struggle is, whatever stage of life you’re in, whatever decision has been put before you: The answer is discipleship.

The definition of discipleship is simple: It is the discipline to follow Jesus.

It is the practice of discipleship that makes it difficult. Because it is following the word and will of God in the small and big things, in the short and the long term, in the good and the bad times. In everything, till death don’t you part, because an eternity with Him awaits.

The definition of discipleship is simple: It is the discipline to follow Jesus. It is the practice of discipleship that makes it difficult.

What makes it difficult is not knowing the word and will of God; He has already spoken. It is all there, on the printed page, in your smartphone, and hopefully in your (Scripture) memory banks.

What makes it difficult is applying it. Living the disciple’s life. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is the chasm between information and transformation. That chasm is the human condition.

The Word of God is fully unnatural, counter-intuitive, counter-cultural. Everything in us – the human condition – wants to do the opposite. Everything in society tells us to do it the way of the world, not the way of God.

So we operate in the flesh. We pursue natural desires, selfish ambition, human tradition, the elemental forces of this world (Colossians 2:8). All hollow and deceptive philosophy, and it shows in the hollowness of the deceived life.

The way that seems right to man, but that in the end leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

In the slow death in the body – as we bear the consequences and reap the curses of the life without holiness – we question God, question His promises, question His goodness.

But in this place of discontent, the answer is still, and all the more so, discipleship.

Discipleship is surrender. Decreasing that He may increase. Dying to self, that He may live in you.

But in a world where Self is the greatest god, surrender is a dirty word. In a world where choice is upheld as the highest value, forgoing your right to choose is incomprehensible.

But the true disciple knows this: Surrender is the greatest liberation.

In a world where Self is the greatest god, surrender is a dirty word.

Here’s a simple analogy to explain that counter-intuitive concept. Let’s say you have to go to Johor. Your job is to choose how to get there.

You could walk. So that’s walking from your home to Woodlands, through Customs, across the Causeway, weaving between the cars, through the Malaysian checkpoint, under the noontime sun. By the time you sit down for your Ramly burger, you’re in no mood to enjoy it.

Or you could book a Singapore-Johor taxi. You’re there faster, without the sweat.

Of course you have to pay the price. Taxis aren’t free, or even cheap. But as you pay the price, you reap the benefit: Less aggro, less sweat, more time to enjoy that Ramly special.

The surrender that discipleship demands is the intentional step of getting into that cab. You do so knowing the cost. You do so knowing you have to trust that the guy behind the wheel will get you safely to your final destination.

But you do so knowing you’re freed up. On the ride, you don’t have to struggle and sweat. You don’t have to worry about petrol. You don’t have to think about how to get there  – cabbie’s got you covered.

It was the experience of John the Baptist. His joy was complete (John 3:29) only in the process of decreasing – surrendering his will, his desires, his selfish ambition – to allow the work of Jesus to increase in His life.

So again: Surrender is the greatest liberation. Sounds bad, but discipleship is counter-intuitive.

What is your struggle? What troubles and torments you? Where aren’t you finding victory in life? What decision do you find yourself unable to make?
Which relationship in your life isn’t healthy? Which parent do you find impossible to honour? Which boy is The One?

Which course should you choose? Which job offer should you take up? How should you manage your manager?

Which commandment do you find difficult to follow? Which bad habit can’t you kick? What personality trait do you refuse to work on?

Believe it or not, the answer is discipleship. This article isn’t here to give the specific answers. That’s unfeasible – it involves a lifetime of mining God’s Word to figure out how to let Him have His way in our lives, and then doing things His better way. In other words, discipleship.

The answer is in acknowledging that all the answers have already been given, in that big leather-bound book on your shelf.

The answer is in recognising that the Author of that book transcends time, already knows the path you are to take, and so knows you better than you think you do.

The answer is in realising that if the answers have already been written, by someone who knows better, then the best way forward is to stop struggling, and instead surrender, submit – that you may soar.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:17)

About the author

Edric Sng

Edric has spent a lifetime in mainstream and digital newsrooms, and has the waistline to prove it. He is a lapsed divemaster, a father to four and husband to one. Could use more sleep.