There is a formation process with discipleship. And this is something that does not get talked about enough!
As we have been mentioning, teaching is involved in this process. That is what Jesus indicated in Matthew 28:19-20, in what we call the Great Commission. And this catechesis is more than academic knowledge. It is the truth of God’s Word having its divine effect on our lives, bringing us to repentance and faith in Christ.
Our salvation does not depend on our work, or any contribution we make. Rather, it depends on the work God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, accomplished on our behalf. He fulfills all the Law, and he was obedient onto death on the Cross whereby he atoned for our sins.
Of course we are invited to place our faith in Jesus and what he accomplished on our behalf. But as Ephesians 2:8-9 makes clear, our ability to respond by faith to the Divine initiative is itself a gift. When we come to Jesus and trust in him, it is because the Holy Spirit draws us through the Gospel and enlightens our understanding. That makes faith, less something we do, than it is our laying down arms and surrendering. That is, trust in Jesus is when we abandon trying on our own to work out of the problems that our efforts created in the first place.
At the same time, although it is not something we can take credit for doing, the way Christ and his Word works in and through us will involve our effort. That is why the Apostle Paul could say, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling!” Because he goes on to write, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).
Formation by the Word is God’s work. But that does not spell easy street! We will need to surrender and submit to ongoing careful listening with lots of repetition. In fact we will need to learn to pray God’s Word and know it by heart. Drawing our life from him can be painful. But he is faithful and leads us.
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of sharing the peace?
“The peace which enables people to live in unity and in the spirit of mutual forgiveness comes only from Christ whose word has been proclaimed. … The peace is a sign that those who participate in it open themselves to the healing and reconciling power of God’s love and offer themselves to be agents of that love in the world. … The personal exchange of the peace should be as unpatterned as possible, but its meaning and significance should be kept clear. It is not the occasion merely for conviviality. The choice of gesture, whether a handshake, holding hands, or an embrace, should be left to the persons themselves.” (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)