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To launch us into the new year we are going to focus throughout January on the image above, which describes the ingredients needed in our lives to help us grow as a disciple of Jesus. 

Each week we will look together at one of the concentric circles, and seek to encourage each other to grow in that area. 

Before going any further though, here are a couple of handy “how-to” points. 

All models are limited, and specifically any model which tries to capture the holy wonder of a life lived in the pattern of God is by definition going to fall woefully short! This is a beginning point. It is an illustration of the various invitations we are handed to know ourselves, each other, and God more fully. 

Each of us will prefer certain parts of this illustration. And equally, each of us will have areas which provoke feelings of uncertainty, dismissiveness or inadequacy. That’s the point! Left to our own devices each of us would construct a pattern of discipleship which suited us and our personality, but the invitation from Jesus is an invitation to much more than that…there are riches in more places than we might each naturally look.

Enjoy growing and playing in the areas of this disciple-life which come most naturally to you. Dare to paddle too in the areas which are less familiar. 

None of it is quick-fix! The “goal” is Jesus. The aim is, in the words of Eugene Peterson, to “live a long obedience in the same direction”. 

Like any other relationship, familiarity is won through commitment, consistency and dedication. Attending a church service, or reading a couple of Psalms will not make any of us able to walk on water or turn water into wine…but a consistent habit of investing in each area will grow us into mature disciples, who know the presence of peace and grace. 

The model is communal. Throughout church history there have been various spiritual practices which focus on the individual. There is good reason for this…and some of this model incorporates the personal. But to ignore relationships with others is to ignore a vast amount of that for which we were created. The involvement of other people unleashes creativity, insight, strength, wisdom and joyfulness into our lives. It also unleashes the possibility for frustration and hurt…because we are all capable of causing these things. Take it easy on yourself and on others as you seek safe and Christlike people to walk alongside you. 

The next instalment will begin a focus on the central point of it all.

Discipleship to Jesus.