On Christian Life & Discipleship

Since the origins of the Christian movement, a constellation of ideas and images have been used to represent the kind of transformation a person participates in along the journey of Christian discipleship. It appears to me that such a collection of distinct yet complimentary symbols have been used to describe this transformation because the nature of its full reality exceeds what could be contained in any single image alone. Christians have thus used practically every resource available to creatively describe what it is like to become right with God. Here is a list of some common images that have been used in Christian scriptures and traditions to describe significant transformational events and processes in the Christian life. [Please comment and let me know if I’ve missed any here that should be added]


Death & Resurrection: dying to your old self and way of life in order to rise to a new self and way of life, which is dramatically represented in the Christian rite of baptism.

Discipleship: being a student who is committed to apprenticing and learning to follow the ways of your teacher.

Cross: denying yourself while voluntarily accepting the burdens of suffering and death in following the example of Christ, which is symbolically represented as “bearing your cross.”

Redemption: being liberated from enslavement; regaining a possession in exchange for a payment.

Freedom: being released from bondage and granted the power to become what you are meant to be.

Adoption: moving from a state of orphanhood to being accepted as a beloved child of God and member of God’s family.

Sonship: being granted the status and full privileges of a beloved child of God.

Reconciliation: moving from a state of opposition and alienation into a restored relationship with God.

Healing: being cured of sickness and restored to health.

Salvation: being rescued and delivered from a situation that was headed towards harm, ruin, and loss.

Repentance: turning around your life and following a new direction.

Rebirth: experiencing a change so significant it is like being born again; being reborn is often preceded by a period of painful labour.

Grace: receiving power from God to do what you cannot do by yourself; receiving a gift that you did not earn or deserve.

Awakening: waking up from a state of unconscious slumber into a new state of greater consciousness and awareness.

Restoration: being repaired and put back to original condition.

Recreation: being transformed into a new being.

Regeneration: experiencing a renewed and revitalized existence; granted new life.

Renewal: experiencing a fresh and revitalized existence; granted new life.

Justification: being absolved of guilt and declared righteous before God.

Forgiveness: being released from the patterns and consequences of guilt and wrongdoing.

Purification/Sanctification/Purgation: being cleansed of impurities.

Illumination: moving from a state of darkness and ignorance into a new state of greater knowledge and awareness of God.

Unification: entering into a state of oneness and reunion with God.

Marriage: entering into a loving and intimate relational union with God.


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