The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world,but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e. “us”):
Paul is the consummate disciple-maker. These Corinthian Christians have gotten off track. Word gets back to Paul. He writes them letters. In this letter Paul ever so diplomatically and gently takes them back to square one’the Cross of Jesus Christ— or “Christ crucified” as Paul put it. From there he goes to square 2, retraining them in the ways of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
And what is the Holy Spirit up to? He reveals, reorients and renews our minds according to the mind of Christ.
Discipleship is the supernatural process of a human person being remade in the image of God, which means being re-formed in the mind of Christ. We are not the disciple-makers. The Holy Spirit is the disciple-maker. We participate with the Holy Spirit’s work in the Holy Spirit’s ways in the midst of the community fellowship the Holy Spirit creates to restore our broken race into the radiant beauty of God’s glory. That’s what discipleship is all about.
I want you to notice the powerful pneumatology ($25 seminary word meaning, in essence, a theology of the Spirit) in Paul’s words:
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
Discipleship is not the wise teaching the unwise. It is not the mature teaching the immature. It is not the professionals teaching the amateurs. In fact, discipleship does not happen in power oriented relationships or in social contexts built on status oriented relationships. True Christian discipleship only happens in the midst of a community of people who prefer one another over themselves and who together learn to love one another with the very essence of the supernatural holy love of God. (see also 1 Corinthians 13)
Just because we call whatever it is we are doing in the church “discipleship” does not make it discipleship. Discipleship cannot be reduced to a program or a formula or a plan or a curriculum. The mind of Christ, the life of Jesus—which is itself the message of the Cross—is our curriculum.
It’s why Paul, writing to the Christian Philippians put it this way:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is the teacher who makes us disciples together in the community of the humble where the would-be disciple-maker and the disciple cannot be distinguished from one another. Picture Jesus washing his disciples feet and you have it.
It’s why Paul, writing to the Christian Romans put it this way,
“Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
When we look back on our lives we will realize it was the most humble, unassuming believers who the Holy Spirit most employed in making us disciples of Jesus Christ. They probably weren’t even trying to “disciple” us. Through the sheer unadulterated authenticity of their faith-full lives the Holy Spirit discipled us. Let us aspire to become those kind of people today—for the sake of others.
Father, thank you for the people who have discipled me, the ones who knew they were doing it and the ones who did it unawares. Let it be so between me and others. Come Holy Spirit and form in me the mind of Christ that I might become who Jesus would be if he were me. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.
1. What do you think of this notion of the Holy Spirit being the disciple-maker? How does that change the way we think about our role in the process?
2. Where are you challenged by today’s text and reflection? Where do you push back on this way of framing it?
3. What insights might the Holy Spirit be impressing on you now? What are the implications of those for today?
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