When I was a sophomore in college I met a new friend named Linda through a campus ministry we both attended. After a little while, Linda asked me if I would like to meet with her one morning each week to read the Bible together. I had been in a Bible study in high school, but I had never met one-on-one with anyone. I was a little nervous about what it might be like, but I agreed.
So we set a day (Wednesday mornings at 7 am at the Ohio Union if memory serves), and we began to meet. Linda was good at observing what was in the Scriptures and even better at asking challenging questions. We studied the Scriptures faithfully together during that school year and into the next. Aside from studying, we took long Scripture memory walks, reciting Scriptures out loud until we had them down. (I’m certain she can still recite Psalm 34 from top to bottom with me -NASB please). Linda and I shared our ups and downs, our struggles and our joys. Sometimes we sang and often we prayed together–oh, and we climbed trees! Right on campus. That was fun! Linda was always challenging me to something, and I was always up for the challenge. The biggest challenge she put in front of me though was that of following Christ faithfully no matter what life had in store.
I’ll never forget something Linda said to me on a walk that changed my perspective. I had been rather quiet in groups up to that point (I had actually spent my entire freshman year in a Bible Study without ever contributing to the discussion). However Linda told me that my words were precious, and that I had good things to say when I actually spoke up. Somehow those words changed me, and her confidence in me caused me to begin to feel I could contribute spiritually to others. It was the beginning of something that still grows in me today. I gained a life-long friend in Linda because we spent time together studying God’s Word. Linda and I stood up for each other at our weddings and I continue to count her among the top influences in my life.
Since the time Linda and I met together, I have had a few other people in my life that I have studied and grown with individually. Sometimes those women challenged me, and sometimes I challenged them, but all of them have become long-term friends.
I share this with you because I realize the valuable influence of relationships in my faith journey. Having a friend who will pray for me and with me, hold me to my word, and challenge me by her own example has stretched me uniquely in my faith. It has taught me to be a disciple (learner, follower) of Jesus Christ.
I am convinced that God intended for us to follow Him in the context of relationships. From the creation account to the Great Commission of Jesus, relationships have been emphasized (as an aside, He promises us that He is with us in relationship even today).
Although Jesus had a multitude of followers from early in His ministry. He called just a few to special roles: “He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him” (Mark 3:14, emphasis mine). Jesus wanted some to be with Him, (to get to know Him well), and He knew the faith would be passed on in this way: from person to person. No casual bystander would catch the fire of Jesus. Those who spent time with Him and really got to know Him would be those who would faithfully spread His good news around the world. To those Jesus gave his departing instructions before returning heaven: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus asked his disciples (learners, followers) to make more disciples. He wanted His learners to produce more learners. The idea goes beyond simply making converts, to making people who have the discipl-ine (see that) to follow Him.
Think about that if you will, and I will write more on it soon. For now, let me ask you: Have you ever met one-on-one with someone to read the Bible? Would you consider it? We are going to be offering training at our church in November. It is one of the most worthwhile things you can learn to do. I know I am eternally grateful for those who have spent time one-on-one with me.
May God Bless You.