First, what is a disciple?
The dictionary defines disciple as: a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.
A disciple is not merely someone following behind someone else, it’s a person who ADHERES (sticks to, follows, practices, prizes) to the doctrines (the stuff He teaches whether you agree with it all or not) of another (Jesus) and is a STUDENT (learner, pupil, ongoing in study, passionate about learning) of the Master (Lord of your life, the One in whom you obey, place your trust, your future, your everything).
Perhaps the most important aspect of a disciple is that you are able, willing, and passionate about making more disciples…and you do it. (as Jesus commanded us to do when He said “go forth and make disciples”)
Most are mere followers. They follow others to church where they consume some spiritual goods and services for themselves, look to be encouraged, maybe volunteer, and enjoy a good show. They feel good at the end of the “service” because they feel as though they have done their spiritual duty and are now on-track with God. Yet followers rarely tithe, get easily discouraged when life presents challenges, are easily offended, and often have a shelf-life of about a year or two at a church before leaving burned out, stressed out, and angry. They are often among the most divisive, lent to gossip, and immature. They tend to be primarily about themselves. They refuse to learn from a mentor. Sadly, this describes the majority of Western church-goers.
Disciples on the other hand, put the doctrines of the Master first. They obey the teachings of this Master, things like: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, put others before yourself, never stop learning and growing, serve the poor, give out of a generous heart, do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, guard your tongue, do not cause division, it is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense, never grow weary of doing good, live as an ambassador for Christ, honor those who labor over you, before a fall comes pride, God loves the humble, be faithful in little and God will put you in charge of much, MAKE DISCIPLES…and the list goes on and on.”
See the differences? I don’t mean to be harsh, but the Bible tells us to do honest self-examination. So again the big question is, “AM I A DISCIPLE?” If after honest examination you find yourself in the category of follower, don’t be alarmed. That’s the perfect place to start. But don’t stay there. Challenge yourself to start yourself on the path to becoming a disciple of Jesus starting RIGHT NOW!
How do I become a disciple?
That’s the million dollar question. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have all that figured out. But the best example I can point to is Jesus. He spent time with the Apostles, teaching them constantly how to follow the Master.
1. So getting yourself into relationships with people further along in their spiritual walk would be a perfect place to start. At Refuge, that can start with our Monday night ESSENTIALS class. As you participate in that class, you will be connected with people who can and will invest in you…it’s called DISCIPLESHIP.
2. Next, stop skipping church. Look, there’s a reason the Apostle Paul said to STOP “forsaking the assembling of yourselves together”. We need to be somewhere on a regular basis where we can hear the word and apply it to our lives. Which leads me to #3,
3. DO IT. Respond. The scripture is clear “don’t just listen to the word…DO WHAT IT SAYS”. Don’t come to church and let it come in one ear and out the other. That’s what followers do. Don’t be a follower, commit yourself to becoming a LEADER. A leader is someone who knows their stuff because they have studied and applied what they have learned.
4. This leads me to the final element, READ. It may be a cliche’ but it’s true, “readers are leaders”. Read the Bible and read books by people who know how to make disciples.
More later as I figure it out. 😉