The Mission (part 2/3)…So What Is A Disciple?
Jesus said, “Therefore [because I have been given all authority in Heaven and Earth], go and make disciples of every nation…”
Last month, I wrote about what it means to “go”? Our mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ”, so these issues drive to the core of who we are. So, this month, let’s look at what it means to be a disciple.
Many ‘evangelical’ churches teach the basic principle that “making disciples” equals winning converts to Jesus. I would reverse that equation and say that winning converts to Jesus is making disciples. Why? Discipleship is a much deeper topic than just winning converts. A disciple is not just someone who has made a commitment to Christ.
A commitment to Christ is the beginning of a life-long journey with your Creator. It is the following that truly makes one a disciple. In the culture of Jesus’ day, many men had a “rabbi” (Jewish word for teacher). As their rabbi would walk about, his disciples would follow behind (culture dictated not walking next to or in front of your leaders). As the rabbi walked, he would talk…and his disciples would follow and take note of his teachings. Following as close as possible meant learning and growth, and one Jewish blessing today still reflects this context…“May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.”
As we walk this journey of life, it is easy to walk further and further behind Jesus and believe we are ‘close enough’. However, this is not the behavior of a disciple. A disciple works very hard to make their way through the crowd to be as close as possible to their teacher.
A disciple wouldn’t want to miss any opportunity to learn and grow. So how do we follow Jesus closer? We could always develop more opportunities, but some opportunities are already available. Our average worship attendance in 2012 is 76 souls. Our average Sunday School attendance is 19. Our average E100 small group attendance is even lower. Is worship the only activity of a disciple? Certainly not! Discipleship also doesn’t end with education, but learning and growth is a good measuring stick for deepening, stagnant or (heaven forbid) dropping discipleship. Being a disciple is not easy work, nor is it a one-time commitment. If our lives are not deepening in Christ over long stretches of time, I’m not sure we can call ourselves disciples.
So what? Well, we can’t partner with the Holy Spirit in making disciples (next month’s article?) if we are not being disciples ourselves. It’s important to be ‘covered in the dust of your rabbi,’ and many of us are pretty clean. Deepening discipleship can happen by joining a Sunday School class, joining a small group or Bible study, or many other ways. I would encourage you to ‘seek the dust’ of Jesus as you draw closer to following Him. The Father said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” Are you listening…or are you standing still? If you would like to deepen your discipleship, I would love the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss where you are and set a plan to help you go deeper.
Do you have a plan for your own discipleship? Have you ever heard of or used a Spiritual Director?