The Greek term for “disciple” in the New Testament is mathetes, which means more than just “student” of “learner”. A disciple is a “follower of Christ. Tragically, many people in churches today believe that they can be Christians but not disciples. They believe to be a disciple is optional because they don’t have the time, skills, knowledge or commitment at this stage in their life. Here are two basic truths to understand regarding the heart of discipleship.
GOD HAS CALLED US TO BE DISCIPLES
Jesus was not interested in great numbers. He was interested in committed followers. Jesus was quite explicit about the cost of following Him. Discipleship requires a totally committed life. He told them in Luke 14:33, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.” This doesn’t mean we literally give away everything. It means that the attitude of our heart should be deeper in love for God than the things of this world.
Obedience is not optional like many Christians think it is today. We must follow by obeying. Matthew 16:24, “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me,” Taking up your cross means to be willing to pay any price in order to follow Jesus, even if it means dying to self.
The Apostle Paul, as a committed disciple, describes the reality of taking up one’s cross and following the Lord in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now lie in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Christ has bought us from the slavery of sin with His precious blood. He then sets us free. We who have been rescued and set free now choose to dedicate and devote our lives committed to love and serve Him for all that He has done for us. The heart of discipleship is love that is why the heart of a true disciple asks, “What can I offer Jesus?” not “What can Jesus do for me?”
GOD HAS COMMISSIONED US TO MAKE DISCIPLES
We just like the other 11 disciples of Jesus are all commissioned to “make disciples.” Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus our model taught His disciples to follow Him and obey His commands so that they could lead others to do the same after He was gone. The Apostle Paul continued this discipleship with Timothy and encouraged him to keep discipling others. It says in 2 Timothy 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Discipleship is intentionally spending time with someone to know Christ, and grow in Christlikeness, loving and obeying Him so that they too can disciple others for the glory of God. The heart of discipleship is love through relationships. Jesus love His disciples and they knew it. As a result they were willing to give their lives to Him and follow Him to the end.
– CCF Chronicles, August 7, 2015 issue