My grandson Camden is just beginning to walk, and our entire family delights in helping him in this new adventure. From encouraging his unsteady steps along furniture to holding both of his little hands and walking with him, everyone wants to have a part!
No one expects a little child to learn to walk on his own, but sometimes we forget that baby Christians need help in learning to walk in the Spirit. This is the bottom line of discipleship. It requires a lot of time and a great deal of energy. But the rewards of seeing a new Christian take his early steps of faith are worth every sacrifice along the way.
What kind of support do new believers need to learn how to walk in the Spirit?
Letting God use you to see new Christians birthed is a commitment. Just as we expect the parents of a new baby to care for the continuing needs of their child, so we should dedicate ourselves to nurturing those who are newly saved into Christian maturity.
This was the spirit of Paul when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 2:7–8: “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.”
When a baby comes into a family, he cannot offer help in any way. In fact, his very helpless neediness adds considerably to the family’s work load! Yet parents joyfully open their home to their little one.
Baby Christians need a similar amount of love, acceptance, and care. They need the church family to embrace the opportunity to meet their spiritual needs. One of the best ways for this to happen is by opening your home and sharing fellowship with new Christians.
From our earliest days in the ministry, Terrie and I learned the impact hospitality can have in the lives of young believers. Not only does it communicate acceptance, but it provides a context to teach by example the daily patterns of a Christian home and godly living.
When we disciple and care for new Christians, it communicates one of the basic necessities of life—love. Babies thrive on love, and so do new believers. It is possible to lead others to Christ out of duty, but discipling new Christians requires love.
First Corinthians 13:1–3 reminds us that ministry absent of love is fruitless:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
Meeting these basic needs of new Christians is a tremendous responsibility. But it is also a joyous privilege. There’s nothing like watching a new Christian you’ve discipled, cared for, and mentored releasing his grasp on human supports and begin walking in the Spirit!