Discipleship is something the church struggles with. We’re really good at making converts but fall short of making disciples. Our Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20), commands not that we make converts, but disciples. The process of becoming more like Christ by following him closely is what discipleship is all about. Think of what our churches and world would be like if we made disciples instead of converts. As a follower of Christ, we must be and make disciples, but first, we have to understand what we mean by being a “disciple.”
What is Discipleship?
Discipleship can be defined as the process of following and learning from a teacher, with the ultimate goal of becoming like that teacher. In the context of Christianity, it refers to the lifelong journey of following Jesus Christ, learning from His teachings, and striving to live in accordance with His example.
Discipleship is essential for the growth and maturation of a believer. It provides a framework for understanding and implementing the teachings of Christ in our daily lives. Through discipleship, we can deepen our relationship with God, gain spiritual wisdom, and find purpose and fulfillment as we align our lives with His divine plan.
The concept of discipleship has its roots in the Bible. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, called upon individuals to become His disciples, inviting them to leave behind their former lives and follow Him. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide vivid accounts of Jesus’ teachings, miracles, and interactions with His disciples, which serve as a rich foundation for our understanding of discipleship.
What does it mean to be a Disciple?
Being a disciple means actively following Jesus. It involves recognizing Him as our Lord and Savior, surrendering our lives to His leadership, and aligning our thoughts, actions, and priorities with His teachings. It requires a daily commitment to seek His guidance and walk in His ways.
As disciples, we are called to be lifelong learners. We study the Scriptures, meditate on His teachings, and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal deeper truths to us. By immersing ourselves in the Word of God, we gain wisdom, discernment, and a better understanding of His will for our lives.
Discipleship entails more than mere intellectual knowledge. It involves living out the principles and values that Jesus embodied. We strive to love unconditionally, extend grace and forgiveness, serve others selflessly, and pursue righteousness. The goal is to become Christlike in our character and actions, reflecting His love and light to the world.
How does one become a Disciple?
Becoming a disciple begins with our salvation, God’s initiation of grace in our lives (Eph. 2:4-10), and our repentance and confession of His lordship (Rom. 10:9-10. It all begins with His invitation and wooing, then our embarking on a transformative journey with Him. This decision involves repentance, acknowledging our need for salvation, and placing our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Discipleship necessitates surrendering our will and desires to Jesus. We let go of our self-centeredness and submit ourselves to His Lordship. Surrendering involves yielding our ambitions, dreams, and plans to Him, trusting that His ways are higher and His purposes are perfect.
Obedience is a hallmark of discipleship. As disciples, we are called to obey the commands of Jesus and live in accordance with His teachings. Obedience springs from love and gratitude for what He has done for us, and it demonstrates our trust in His wisdom and guidance.
What are the benefits of being a Disciple?
Discipleship leads to a life of abundance in Christ (John 10:10). As we grow in our relationship with Him, we experience His love, peace, and joy filling our hearts. He provides us with purpose, direction, and a deep sense of fulfillment that transcends earthly circumstances.
Through discipleship, we find freedom from the bondage of sin. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross grants us forgiveness and delivers us from guilt and shame. As disciples, we learn to overcome temptation, crucify our old sinful nature, and walk in the freedom and righteousness that Christ has secured for us.
Discipleship brings a profound sense of joy and peace that surpasses human understanding. By abiding in Christ and aligning our lives with His truth, we experience the assurance of His presence, the comfort of His promises, and the steadfastness of His love, even in the midst of life’s trials.
Being a disciple has eternal implications. Jesus promises rewards in heaven for those who faithfully follow Him (1 Pet. 1:3-10). These rewards go beyond earthly achievements and possessions. They encompass the fullness of God’s kingdom and the everlasting joy of being in His presence for eternity.
How does one grow as a Disciple?
The Bible is our roadmap for discipleship. Regularly reading and studying God’s Word helps us understand His character, purposes, and will for our lives. It nourishes our faith, equips us for spiritual battles, and provides guidance and wisdom for everyday living.
Prayer and worship are vital components of discipleship. Through prayer, we communicate with God, pouring out our hearts, seeking His guidance, and interceding for others. Worship, both personal and communal, deepens our love for God and cultivates a spirit of adoration, gratitude, and surrender.
Discipleship flourishes in the context of community. Engaging in fellowship with other believers provides encouragement, accountability, and opportunities for growth. We learn from one another, share our faith journeys, and support each other in the challenges and triumphs of following Christ.
True discipleship involves selfless service. By following Jesus’ example of servanthood, we demonstrate His love to the world. Serving others opens doors for the Holy Spirit to work through us, impacting lives, and spreading the message of the Gospel.
As disciples, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, sharing the good news of salvation with others (Matt. 28:19-20). We have the privilege of introducing people to Jesus, inviting them into a relationship with Him, and guiding them on their own discipleship journey.
Discipleship is not a one-time event but a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus, learn from Him, and become more like Him. It is a transformative journey that leads to abundant life, freedom from sin, joy, peace, and eternal rewards. As we read the Bible, pray, worship, fellowship, serve, and share the Gospel, we grow as disciples and inspire others to join us on this extraordinary path. Embrace discipleship, seek God’s guidance, and experience the transformative power of following Jesus.