Discipleship is a fancy word for following someone...
To follow Jesus however, it will require more than just casual tagging along. It will mean a total commitment of body, soul, and spirit and a willingness to adopt his lifestyle, mannerisms, and priorities. Jesus only wants one thing, all of you. What does this mean practically speaking? It means to forsake my own agenda, dreams, and aspirations for what He wants for me instead. It also means that I must be in close contact through spending time in God’s Word, the Bible, and in worship and prayer. EVERYDAY!
Jesus Himself gave us insight in John 15 with the following invitation, “…As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire, and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!”
Being a true disciple of Jesus will manifest itself in our lives in 3 ways: relinquishment, resolve, and relationship.
To relinquish means to voluntary cease or to give up. When we cease to be self-absorbed and give up control of our time, talent, and treasure, to how He wants to use us, we can experience freedom and fulfillment. So often we miss out on our “best life” trying to chart our own course when if we would surrender to His destiny for us, we would find ourselves living an adventure we would never have dreamed of. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 clearly states, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So, you must honor God with your body.” It seems elementary to me that we would willingly and intuitively give up our rights and agenda to a God who gave His life for us, but we struggle to do so every day. There is a tendency towards self-centeredness and control that seems hard to give up. For many of us it has become a pattern for living. Mark Batterson in his brilliant book, “If”, helps us with his words. “You don’t belong to God once; you belong to him twice. Once by virtue of creation, and twice by virtue of redemption. That means you don’t owe God one life you owe him two. That’s why 110% effort isn’t enough. You owe God 200%.”
To be resolved means to be determined to do something. This is an important aspect of discipleship because following Jesus will cost us sometimes more than we humanly want to give. He told us that in this world we would encounter trials and difficulties but that we are not to fear because He has overcome the world. The reality is that we can only overcome by knowing His Word and relying on it fully. We also must have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit continually giving us the strength we need to stand amid adversity. That requires us to daily spend time reading, studying, worshiping, and praying not as a religious exercise but for a filling up in our souls. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we need to build our spiritual muscles with these words, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” The convinced are convincing and we need to drive a stake in the ground spiritually so that we may grow to maturity in the way God intended.
Finally, its only through relationship that we can really participate in discipleship. We must really know Him! In the passage in John mentioned earlier we read the words…” live in union with Me”. A speaker I recently heard spoke of a vision he had about the throne room of God where He saw Jesus sitting at His right hand. He said that he realized in the vision that once a believer has entered into relationship with Jesus; that they also have access to and enter the throne room of His presence and don’t ever leave it. We are always under His watchful eye. Knowing that means that I can have perpetual contact with Him no matter where I am or what I am doing. Although it’s nearly impossible to imagine, the Savior of the world, my Savior, Jesus is hanging on my every word, understanding my every thought, and waiting for my next move. How can I not offer all that I am just to follow Him? Through our intimate relationship with Jesus, we can adopt His lifestyle, mimic His mannerisms, and become like Him. There’s an old chorus that says it all…” To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask to be like Him. All through life’s journey, from earth to glory, all I ask is to be like Him.”
In Luke 17 we find Jesus answering a question asked by someone in the crowd He was teaching. The Pharisee asked, “When will the Kingdom of God come?’ This is a question at the forefront of our minds as well as we encounter an increase of turmoil and trial. Jesus answered with a fascinating statement that the Kingdom is already here. He went on to talk about what will be happening in the last days and began describing the callousness and carelessness in the way people will conduct their lives. Jesus then gave us the key to being His disciple. He iterated this simple mandate in vs. 33, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” As we give ourselves to Jesus in relinquishment of our own will, resolve to follow Him no matter the cost, and prioritize our relationship with Him; we will become His disciple.