Discipline Christians require connectivity
The effective Christian must be connected daily to a source of strength, a source of soul nourishment and a source of knowledge to be able to stand against those daily attacks of the enemy. That is true for every other area in our lives.
Effective experts connect religiously to their professional organisations, where they read new research, follow new ideas in their field, so they can continually better their professional knowledge. Strong trees do the same. They must constantly remain connected to water and sunshine to thrive.
The California Redwood tree, for example, can grow up to 367 feet, 22 feet wide and can live up to 2000 years. But for it to achieve those feats, it has to have a constant flow of air moisture from the ocean breeze, fed by a community of different trees and organisms that provide its nutrients, and roots that spread out 80 feet in all directions absorbing hundreds of gallons of water daily.
Just like this tree that draws on a wide variety of moisture and a vast network of nutrients, Christians are expected to plant themselves in the word of God and connect to other Christians for survival and growth. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches; abide in me, and I will be in you that you will be able to bear much fruit” (John 15). Paul says, “We are many parts but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20). The thing we must get clear: a connection to God alone is not sufficient, a Christian community is also vital.
Staying planted and connected to God is essential.
Disciplined Christians plant themselves by the waters of God’s words and bear good fruits. Psalm 1:1-3: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditates day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Like the Redwood tree, nothing that is strong stays strong on its own.
The power of a disciplined Christian community – the Apostolic Church.
The power of an effective Christian lies in the discipline of connecting to a vital community of saints. I have a friend who told me “It is a waste to go to church every weekend, there is too much hypocrisy.” But we need a community of believers, to study, pray and worship together, and support each other. That is how the early church survived persecution. Think about that. When that church got united it baptized 3000 people after one sermon. The preachers learned at least 15 different languages in one day – talk about power. But it all came from waiting on God and sticking together.
What made them that powerful? First it was receiving the Holy Spirit. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
Because of what happened at Pentecost, the apostolic church is seen historically as the most disciplined and powerful ever – the things that they did, they did daily.
Let’s examine Christian behaviour in the Apostolic Church: Characteristics of the Early Church (Acts 2:42-47):
A. It Was a Learning Church– We Should Penetrate More Deeply into the Wisdom and Grace of God.” (Sometimes we need to wrestle with the word, and not to be satisfied with simplistic milk-type understanding). Disciplined Christians dig a little deeper.
B. It Was a Church Where Great Things Happened— “If We Expect Great Things from God and Attempt Great Things for God…Things Happen!”
C. It Was a Sharing Church— they had an intense feeling of responsibility for each other — a real Christian cannot bear to have too much when others have so little. Disciplined Christians are influence by other disciplined Christians.
So, there we have it. It requires a discipline effort on the Christian, a daily commitment connecting to God and fellow saints. God is our head; the church is his body. Therefore, Christians must be anchored to both in order to walk this spiritual journey.