The word “Disciple” comes from the Greek word “Mathetes” and it means: A learner, it means a pupil, it means a disciple, a disciplined one, or a follower. As Jesus’ disciple, I am His pupil in kingdom living. I am learning from Him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if He were I. It is my faith in Him that led me to become His disciple. My confidence in him simply means that I believe that Jesus is right about everything. Who He is and what He says shows what life is at its best, and what it was intended by God to be. “In him was life and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4 NAS)
Understand that being his disciple is not a matter of special “religious” activities, but an orientation and quality of my entire existence. This is what is meant by Jesus when he says that those who do not forsake all cannot be his disciple. (Luke 14:26 & 33) The emphasis is upon the all. There must be nothing in our lives that hold a greater value than Jesus and His kingdom. He must be clearly seen as the most important thing in our lives, and being His disciple must be looked at as the greatest opportunity any human being will ever have.
When we become a disciple the grace that brought it can begin to move throughout every aspect of what we are and do. Grace is God acting in our lives to bring about what we do not deserve and cannot accomplish on our own. But we must not be passive in this process. We are commanded to put off the old person and put on the new. (Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:22-24) We are told to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18) This is something for us to do that we cannot do it on our own, but it will not be done for us. Being a disciple of Jesus means that we can do whatever it is we need to do to increasingly take on His character and live in His power.
The ultimate outcome of being a disciple is expressed by Paul the Apostle: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17) And again: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Cor. 10:31) Living as Jesus’ disciple, I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom everywhere I am, and in every activity I engage in. There are three dimensions of learning to be a disciple.
First, we must learn to do the things which Jesus explicitly said to do. It is quite literally nonsense to call Jesus “Lord,” and not do what he said. “Lord” means nothing in such a case. (Luke 6:46-49) But because I do accept him as Lord, his instructions on behavior are my treasures for living life. Of course I cannot do what he said by just trying. I must train! I must, through appropriate courses of action, become inwardly transformed by grace to become the kind of person—in my inmost thoughts, feelings, attitudes and directions of will—who will routinely do the kinds of things he said to do.
Second, we must learn to conduct the usual activities of life in home, school, community, business, and government in the character and power of Christ. Jesus himself, of course, spent most of his life on earth as an “independent contractor” or businessman. Jesus could have led the ordinary life of the ordinary citizen in all of its legitimate respects. He can show us how to live now, as a mother or father, banker or computer programmer, teacher or artist, in the Kingdom of the Heavens. His character and power and personal guidance will lead us into life as it should be in all of these areas of human existence.
Third, we must learn to exercise the power of the kingdom. Prayer, in its aspect of training for Kingdom life, is primarily a matter of learning to exercise power in a way that is both profitable and safe. The fruit of the Spirit (Christ-like character) flourishes only in a context of an authentic relationship with God. Understand that following Jesus as His disciple is not something restricted to “church services.” The “rivers of living water” which, as he said “shall flow from the center of the believers life” (from his “belly,” John 7:38), will continually flow from us, as it did from him, wherever we may be.
Disciplines for the spiritual life are places in which we meet with Jesus to be taught by Him, and He is our guide into how they are best practiced. We should not be overly concerned about how others do them. In a very short time Jesus will lead us into the practice of them that is best for us. The crucial thing is that, as disciples, we have a plan for carrying out the decision we have made to devote ourselves to becoming like our Master and Lord—to increasingly living in the character and power of Christ.
Disciples are those who, seriously intending to become like Jesus from the inside out, systematically and progressively rearrange their affairs to that end, under the guidance of the Word and the Holy Spirit. That’s what being a disciple of Jesus is about. This Sunday at South Side we will be taking a deeper look into what we need to do as a disciple of Jesus. We begin worship at 10:45, and would love to have you and your family worship with us!
South Side Church of Christ