“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death;”
—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Can you think back to the first time someone (other than your immediate family) took a deep, personal interest in your well-being, for no other reason than that they cared for you?
How did that make you feel?
We’d bet that saying, “good” doesn’t quite do that feeling justice, but that it called to some part of your innermost being that longs to be known and cherished, not for anything you’ve done, but simply for who you are.
Although you are unique in your creation, this yearning is not unique to you. God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” -all mankind. Our hearts are restless for the rest that can only be found in intimate relationship with our Creator. But for now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror, and as we wait to experience being fully known by our Creator, He in His mercy has fashioned us as part of Christ’s body so we are not alone, even as we wait “for another country.”
It’s why over and over we’re commanded to move away from an isolationist faith and into community: Jesus promises His presence will be with the two or three who gather in His Name. Paul over an over commands us to not give up meeting together but to push into relationship to encourage one another, lifting one another up.
The heart of discipleship hinges on this longing of our own hearts: to know and be known. It’s why The Apprentice Approach encourages life-on-life discipleship. Because if our passion is to press into Christ but we only haphazardly reach out to people along the way, we’re not only failing in The Great Commission but failing to love God as well. For if anyone has but sees a brother or sister in need and not give, how can the love of God be in that person?
Moreover, whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. To walk as Jesus did is to obey the Father’s commands and abide in His love. To obey the Father’s commands is to love each other as Jesus did, laying our lives down for the people around us. So if our passion is to press into Christ, we are actively and strategically reaching out to the people around us, or as C.S. Lewis says, making the “main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
Active in that we look at the people around us, see them as the people God created them, and invite them into the glorious life of Christ.
Strategic in that we don’t just invite them in to Christ’s life, but into our own lives as well.
Active in that we actively lay down our own lives – sleeping in, only spending time with people who are fun or easy, make financial decisions that impact the Kingdom – in order to encourage the immature believer towards maturity in Christ through our time, talents, and treasure, and by modeling and sharing our own faith actively.
Strategic in that as we live life alongside them, we allow them to feel seen, make sure they feel known, and care more about helping them develop into who Christ has created them to be, rather than in making a “mini-me.”
This is the cornerstone of discipleship: to cultivate that longing God has given us for intimate community through active, strategic, life-on-life relationships; curate it in others; and display it for generations to follow.