“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” (Galatians 4:19)
Here in his impassioned message to the church he had planted at Galatia, Paul shows us some important things about the nature of Christian disciple-making:
— First, he describes the RELATIONSHIP that it involves. He calls the Galatians “My children,” which tells us something about the personal, caring relationship that discipling involves. We are to shepherd our disciples like we would our own children.
— We also see something of the COST of discipleship: “with whom I am … in labor.” So discipling can be a hard, sometimes painful process. It costs a person time, it costs emotionally — we can get hurt; disappointed; grieved (as Paul was here with Galatians! There is cost for the one who would commit to making disciples.
— And he shows us the ultimate GOAL of discipleship: “until Christ is formed in you.” This is the goal: that our disciples become like Christ. Ephesians 4:13 says, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Our goal is not for our disciples to become like US; except to the extent that we are like Christ.
So Paul shows us that discipleship is a personal relationship, which involves costs of time and emotional energy, with the ultimate goal of seeing others become like Jesus Christ.