In the last two blog entries, we’ve looked at the pitfall of “all head” and “all hands.” The third discipleship pitfall is “all heart”– focusing on just internal character and heart… the contemplative, emotional retreat– just me and God… drifting. Or, in more social cases, we focus on “living life together,” assuming we will grow by osmosis without intentionality.
Yet how can character develop apart from doing and living out? The experiences of life help shape who we are. Internal growth doesn’t happen apart from external behavior and interaction with the wider community. A tree gets strengthened as it blows in the wind. The bubble of isolation encouraged by all-heart approach doesn’t promote health, but weakness. We need those connections with not only God, but with other people and with the world around us in order to strengthen us.
Heart alone without knowledge or action does not make for a holistic disciple either. As James bluntly puts it, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:17). Faith is not truly faith when it has been severed from real world experience, action and relevance.
We are called to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Any holistic discipleship will take into account all of these parts of ourselves, for discipleship is not picking and choosing what we will bring to God and what we will hold back.
Being a disciple of Jesus is about more than just knowledge, more than just right actions, more than just internal change. It’s about all three together. We are aiming for a holistic kind of discipleship– one that includes the head, the hands, and the heart. As we grow in each area, we become more fully integrated as followers of Jesus.