I recently wrote about God triumphantly delivering Levi, friend of mine, through a heart transplant. In fact, within a month of the heart transplant, Levi unexpectedly showed up at a 5K race held in his honor.
Levi faithfully helps to produce spiritual generations on the mission field of UNT, in ICU and where ever he is living among people. He is also a gifted writer, and I’m honored he is my guest writer this month.
The term “spiritual generations” sounds cheesy to me. I can’t tell you why. I’ve always just called it discipleship because that’s what it is; however, the word “generations” helps put a certain perspective on discipleship.
A father has a son. A couple decades down the road, his son gets married and also sires a son, making the former a grandfather, and so on. Somewhere down the line, the father passes away and fades into the fabric of history, most likely to be forgotten almost entirely, yet his genetic makeup, and maybe his name, still exists on Earth in some small way. These are physical generations.
Spiritual generations are similar, but obviously on the much deeper spectrum of one’s spiritual growth. Discipleship is about the legacy of Jesus Christ being passed down from Christ himself to his disciples, to their disciples, and all the way to you and me and anyone else who will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is relevant throughout all cultures and all of history because it never changes with the times. It is the one and only constant truth offered to the world by the grace and mercy of God for his glory alone.
Becoming A Son
When I started college, I met Aaron through a men’s Bible study. Immediately, I was drawn to his willingness to make himself available to just meet with me and talk about whatever we wanted to talk about. Eventually, I started to pick up on Aaron’s intention to meet with me so willingly: he shared the love of Christ with me no matter what we talked about. I would be stressing over whether or not I should date a certain girl, and he would be sure to remind me of the preeminence of Christ in that decision.
In May 2010, Aaron was there when I came to Christ after fully realizing my sin and need for a Savior and confessing with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. I became Aaron’s “spiritual son” and he my “spiritual father.” I was the next generation to carry on the legacy of Jesus Christ. Aaron would teach me how to pass on the legacy to someone else through evangelism and loving service for others just as Christ “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45).
Fathering The Next Generation
After Aaron left to start churches in Thailand, I got involved in the college ministry of The Navigators. Through this ministry, I became even more equipped to share the love of Christ with others. People like Burke (now a missionary in Uruguay) and Doug Sullivan, my mentor and regional director of The Navigators, began to build me up for the purpose of passing on Jesus’ legacy, to make disciples who will make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20).
I cannot tell you this is easy for me. I’m naturally shy when it comes to meeting people, and if you’ve ever tried it, sharing the Gospel is hard. It’s hard because it takes us out of our own skin and makes us uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I have not failed in discipling others. First of all, no one is successful in making disciples without the Spirit (Titus 3:5), and, secondly, discipleship isn’t just about turning unbelievers into believers.
I’ve never shared the Gospel with an unbeliever who came to Christ, but I am the worship leader for at the University of North Texas. I kid you not, there is discipleship in this. The greatest blessing in serving Jesus by leading worship is not that I get to play guitar for my friends. The greatest thing about leading my brothers and sisters in worship is listening to them sing as one voice and one body to the one true God and King.
I received a heart transplant in April. Before the operation, Todd came to visit me. He reminded me that I didn’t even have to be in Denton with my guitar to lead people in worship. I was doing it from my hospital bed. The Spirit was using my time in the hospital to lead to people to Christ in prayer and in worship. My grandfather even emailed me and said, “Only God can make a hospital bed into a pulpit.”
In this way, I’m leading a generation in the way of Christ because discipleship is letting others watch the way you live your life for Christ. It lies beyond the tangible words of the Gospel that we can read every day; it is Christ living in and through you and me, calling people to himself (Gal. 2:20). And we get to watch, glorifying God for his love and grace. We get to watch sons and daughters be born.
“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” –Psalm 89:1