Ravenous wolves oppose the emancipation of humanity, so how do we impart a fighting spirit into new generations of Jesus People?
Those who disciple newly-born Jesus People should take a look at the concise, exciting teachings on spiritual warfare from Greg Laurie’s radio broadcast (beginning 1/2012). This raises the question of how to impart an authentic, Outlaw Faith to new generations of believers, which is the reason spiritual warfare rages around us – the Usurper holding ground against the True King of Kings.
Exactly how to “pass it on” is perhaps the greatest struggle, since, “the disciple can be no greater than his teacher,” Jesus said. It means our weaknesses echo through time, along with our strengths. It means thinking beyond myself, here and now, which is a daily challenge. What we don’t realize (until it’s too late) is the vital impact today makes on tomorrow.
The Legacy Issue
The quest to leave a legacy tugs at our hearts, and is a godly reason for our spiritual struggle: “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men,” Paul said (Acts 20:26), which was his legacy. “Moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy,” he said (1 Corinthians 4:2), which again is the “Language of Legacy” that echoes in our hearts.
It is part of our genetics to “be fruitful and multiply,” living beyond today by creating the future, either biologically through procreation, or spiritually by discipleship. Both procreation and discipleship share similar outcomes and significance, even if they differ in approach. Both leave long-term imprints, both require a balance of investment and expectations, both trigger agony and thrilling significance. We long for some kind of significance, but only God’s Word explains how our longing springs from a need to build a legacy, and how the legacy is properly built.
The problem with discipleship arises when each new generation dilutes their inheritance of Outlaw Faith with new flavors of indifference, until heads no longer turn, nobody is impacted, and finally a compromised, indifferent generation emerges. The indifferent offspring are rightly called “Christians”, which means “little guys” (let the reader understand). It was a derisive label created by pagans in the Roman Empire.
The Early Church called themselves “Disciples”, which would be a misnomer today. Discipleship takes back seat to the Almighty Singing Worship Service, if any discipleship occurs today. (To be fair, some say the Sunday Sing-Fest is discipleship, which requires some imagination!) There’s nothing wrong with music, of course, until it becomes a replacement for the clear imperatives given in the Word to raise disciples, not singers!
To leave a legacy of strong disciples who can pass it on may be complicated, but launching discipleship with a good foundation is not complicated. It means passing on the will to fight.
Outlaws vs. Weenies
So how do we impart an Outlaw Faith instead of a Weenie Faith? Greg Laurie touches on a key factor separating “little guys” from “Disciples” when he recalled how an older brother taught him about spiritual temptation and spiritual conflict. It was a life-saver for Laurie as a young Jesus Freak. What a tragedy it would be if we lost his amazing talents! It could have turned out badly if he was not taught very early about spiritual warfare. Laurie was fortunate to get decent discipleship.
Paul laid down a similar foundation with his disciples on the First Missionary Journey:
“they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
For both Paul and Laurie, warning about spiritual hardship beforehand beats doing it afterwards, or even during hardship. Decisions must be made before the confusion descends.
For young believers, “many hardships” usually means a bevy of temptations appearing suddenly, out of nowhere. Laurie said it was chicks, “who never paid any attention to me before – not in my universe!” When he became a Jesus Freak, it changed. (TIP for the Desperate and Dateless: become a Jesus Freak, and watch your luck change!)
The 6-Month Window
There seems to be a six month window for a new believer when the life of the Holy Spirit is truly revolutionary. It is not only the most exciting, it is usually the most foundational period in a believer’s life. Soon enough, the malaise of Old Christian Disease (OCD) sets in with cynicism, or a hardened heart, or smug super-spirituality: “I know what I’m doing!” The sad migration from spiritual authenticity to hypocrisy begins if a strong foundation is not present. OCD puts the pressure on us to disciple strategically and effectively, yet many of those discipling new believers are unsure where to begin and end up floundering while the clock is ticking.
I can’t think of a precise scripture explaining the OPS theory, except for something Jesus said:
“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ “And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. “Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26
The passage is interesting, even if it doesn’t mention a time frame for this spiritual freedom. Maybe it takes six months to “pass through waterless places,” and for the house to be “swept and put in order,” as Jesus said. Maybe this passage doesn’t describe OPS at all, but it has a fascinating similitude, doesn’t it?
What is not speculative is the necessity to pass along a healthy, fighting spirit to young believers, at the outset. It means “reminding them that we must suffer many hardships!” Any good discipleship should begin with studying suffering as a Means of Growth, temptation and spiritual warfare.