DISCIPLE Agency’s 20th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service
Discipleship ‘is not accidental’
By Grace Toh
“TO FOLLOW JESUS IS NOT AN ACCIDENTAL THING,” declared Bishop Dr Robert Solomon at the 20th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of the DISCIPLE Agency in Singapore, held at Toa Payoh Methodist Church on July 14, 2011.
It was a particularly festive occasion as one of the founding members of the DISCIPLE programme in the United States, Mrs Wini Grizzle, and representatives from DISCIPLE Agencies in our neighbouring countries were present to offer their congratulatory wishes. Graduates of the programme were also present.
The Thanksgiving Service marked the end of four days of training for both veteran and new trainers seeking to lead the various series of DISCIPLE Bible Study. The training started on July 12 with a welcome dinner and opening service. Sixty trainers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, East and West Malaysia as well as Singapore attended the sessions to pick up skills and information on new resources available.
The Bishop gave the message at the service, with translation by the Rev Dr Niam Kai Huey, Director of DISCIPLE Agency, Singapore. He spoke from Luke 14:25-33, pointing out that in this passage Jesus controversially says three times to the large crowds that were following Him: “[you] cannot be my disciple”.
This “unpalatable and shocking” phrase was meant to dispel the crowd’s superficial ideas of what it means to follow Jesus, and the Bishop highlighted three “most important” things that Christians must recognise in order to be a disciple of Jesus.
The first, he said, is having “the most important relationship”, even above family members. “All relationships are relativised by our relationship to Christ. There is no relationship more important than the one we have with our Lord Jesus Christ. If there is such a relationship, then it becomes idolatrous, and we end up doing more harm to ourselves and our loved ones.”
He added: “In fact, we will end up loving all our family members more if we learn to love Jesus with all our hearts.”
The second is “the most important way”, or as the Bishop said, “literally a death march”. He pointed out that although there are blessings when following Jesus, sufferings and deprivations are also part and parcel of the Christian life. “If we are Christians, we must expect to suffer.” The greatest blessings are also found in sufferings, as well as an intimate fellowship with the Lord.
Finally, Christians must recognise that Jesus is “the most important treasure” in their lives, and that He expects them to give up everything for Him. Only then, said the Bishop, would they be truly blessed. “Only then will we know the freedom of the spirit.”
He thus encouraged the congregants to make a list of everything they had and place all of it in Christ’s hands, noting that discipleship is always intentional, and that “Half-hearted commitment won’t do. Part-time discipleship won’t do.”
The Bishop exhorted the participants to study God’s Word carefully, noting the high standards Jesus has set for His disciples and striving diligently to achieve them.
Earlier, the DISCIPLE Agency in Hong Kong presented an anniversary gift to the Agency in Singapore.
Tokens of appreciation were presented to Mr and Mrs Grizzle and the local and overseas trainers who had facilitated the latest round of training.