Discipleship

I'm teaching a new course on Sunday nights focusing on biblical discipleship. Several truths emerge from Scripture when we study what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

  • In the ancient world, all famous (and many unknown) teachers had students who followed them and learned from them. These students were called disciples. Disciples were thus followers of their master and learners from them.
  • Jesus called people to be His disciples; He called them to follow Him and to learn from Him. Following Him meant acceptance of His authority, submission to His direction, and yielding one's own wishes to the Teacher. Learning from Him meant becoming a humble student, having a learner's attitude, and taking His teachings seriously.
  • Jesus extends an invitation to all who are interested to become His disciples in Luke 9:23, "And He said to them all, 'If anyone wills to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'" The invitation is to those who bend their will to His to follow Him. The instruction is the taking up of the cross. The cross--an instrument of death in the ancient world--meant that the disciple embraced a radical break with the past, a dying to self, in order to become Christ's follower.
  • Jesus' disciples learn how to live in relation to Him as Master. They learn that He is the center of this new life--not rules, regulations, rituals, or even activity--and they learn that following Him means listening to His voice, talking with Him, and living out His love both to other disciples and to those who are not His followers.
  • Hearing His voice involves daily time in the Word of God as food for the soul, as air for the spiritual lungs, as wisdom for the journey, and as encouragement in times of trouble. The disciple of Christ makes an appointment with God to spend time with Him daily and seeks to keep that appointment at all costs.
  • Talking with Jesus means learning how to pray, and then praying. Prayer is work, but so is developing communication in any relationship. Prayer develops a heart of worship and honor to the Master so that the disciple lives in the joy of time with Christ (John 15:7).
  • Living out His love to other disciples means that followers fulfill His command to love one another (John 13:34-35), caring for one another, serving one another, honoring one another, and worshiping with one another, to show the world their Master.
  • Living out His love to those who do not follow Him means that His disciples take the message of His good news to every creature (Mark 16:15) and become witnesses to Christ (Acts 1:8), so as to make new disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • As these four areas of life are lived out--the Word, prayer, ministry, and outreach--true disciples of Jesus Christ fulfill the great commandment that Jesus uttered (Mark 12:28-31). In this way, they show to the world that they are disciples of Jesus Christ. He becomes the Center.
  • He invites you to answer His call and be His disciple--you can be an authentic believer in a cookie-cutter world. You can "break the mold" and follow Christ with abandon.