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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Discipleship, Devotion or Both?

Relevant Ministry Blog Schedule:
Tuesday - "About Spiritual Health in Life and Ministry"

Thursday - "About Relevant Women"

by Cyndi Coleman
Discipleship or devotion? What’s the difference? Does it matter? Are they the same thing? Can one exist without the other? These were questions rolling around in my head when I misunderstood a text from a friend. A dear friend asked me to prepare a devotion for a retreat. When I asked if there was a specific focus or theme she shot back a few ideas. The text read, “How about discipleship or devotion?” I thought she meant those, together, as a topic. So I began thinking it through and researching it a bit. I felt a little confused though; thus the questions above.

Though I am familiar with both words, I looked up a definition to see their exact wordings. Sure, I know I should be a “disciple” of Jesus and I have a morning “devotion” time, but actual definitions can shed such light and bring perspective. So, here they are:

Discipleship: A follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.  Therefore a Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of   the good news of Jesus Christ. (

Devotion: (1) love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause (2) a feeling of strong love or loyalty: the quality of being devoted. The use of time, energy, etc. for a particular purpose. (

When I sat back to consider the word, disciple, I remembered what Jesus said just before he ascended back into heaven in the book of Matthew, “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” (Matthew 28:19 NIV).

When I read the definition of devotion I thought of a verse God used to first set my heart ablaze for evangelizing the lost many years ago, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

I must admit, at this point, I was still a little stumped on what I could make of this to share with some sweet sisters-in-Christ ON THE VERY NEXT MORNING!! Yes, I was a wee-bit anxious. I looked up and saw my husband walk into the room, so I asked him for some thoughts on these two words. He said, “Well, discipleship would be the external output from an internal devotion.” Wow! Of course! The answers to the questions I’d been struggling with were wrapped up in that one statement. Internal and external - answers them all.

So, at the risk of being redundant, here are those questions, from above, again:

Discipleship or devotion?
What’s the difference?
Does it matter?
Are they the same thing?
Can one exist without the other?

Once I began to truly consider the internal versus the external, the answer is quite clear: there is most certainly a difference and it does matter. A follower, or disciple, of Jesus Christ should never attempt their Christian walk without both!

Without the internal devotion interwoven into an intimate relationship with Christ, the external will either not exist at all or it will be without effect. God is Love (1 John 4:8), therefore being a disciple or making disciples cannot happen without love. A love relationship between you and Christ, internally, will naturally result in an outward love for others which makes the whole gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15) possible.

 Also, another verse comes to mind, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels (EXTERNAL), but have not love (INTERNAL & EXTERNAL), I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Those are very strong words for a girl wishing to further develop her relationship with Christ and lead others to the Lord.

You see, Jesus instructed the disciples for a period of three years. They often referred to Jesus as Teacher. After they’d been literally living and working and learning from Jesus for this time, Jesus sent them forth to evangelize, to  spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Their internal hearts had been eternally altered by Jesus, himself. They had been taught and trained. They, themselves, had been discipled. Now, they could become teachers and externally disciple others into that intimate, internal relationship with Christ.

What is your internal status where Jesus is concerned? Do you have a relationship with him?

Do you feel that you ever experienced devotion or discipleship without the other? Do you think it’s possible, spiritually?

To what extent do you believe your internal experience with Jesus is affecting your external walk? Is it obvious to those around you that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ?

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