When you make the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you commit your life to His service. Admittedly, when you first get saved, that may not be your motivation. If we’re being honest, most of us initially get saved because we want to avoid an eternity separated from God. However, as our relationship with Christ grows, our motivation for being an active participant in that relationship also evolves. Additionally, the things that we do as a result of that relationship also changes.
What does it mean to truly be a disciple of Christ? We can read the Gospel accounts that revolve around Christ’s public ministry and see the important role that His disciples played. We can continue to read through the New Testament and find out more about what these ordinary men did when they committed their lives to an extraordinary Savior. That should encourage us. The disciples weren’t spectacular by any means. They were ordinary tradesmen who accepted the call of Christ on their lives and became disciples. Becoming a disciple simply means that you actively follow the Savior that you profess.
What does it mean to actively follow Christ? We can look to Scripture for the answers to that question and find out how discipleship looks in our lives.
Discipleship is a Constant Learning Experience
Luke 11:1 (TPT)
One day, as Jesus was in prayer, one of his disciples came over to him as he finished and said, “Would you teach us a model prayer that we can pray, just as John did for his disciples?”
We don’t know exactly how long the disciples had been following Christ when one of them came to Jesus with this request. However, wouldn’t you assume that they knew how to pray? Undoubtedly, they already had some kind of prayer life. However, they didn’t want their learning to stop. They had seen the way that John the Baptist prayed for his disciples. In this Scripture, they were sitting there watching Jesus pray, and they realized that they needed a better approach to prayer.
It’s easy for us to gloss over this verse and jump straight into the Lord’s prayer, but there is a lot to take in from Luke 11:1. First of all, can you imagine the courage that it took one of Jesus’ closest followers to tell Him that they didn’t know everything about something as fundamental as prayer? They decided that their need for learning was more important than looking spiritually superior.
This is just one example in Scripture of Jesus continuing to teach the disciples. During His three-plus years of public ministry, the disciples were present for His parables and other lessons that He taught the masses. While the crowds were learning, so were the men who Jesus had handpicked to follow Him.
Part of being a true disciple of Christ involves committing yourself to continuing to learn from Him. Whether you have been a follow of Christ for five minutes of 50 years, there are still things that you can learn about Him, His ways and His Word. Discipleship is a constant learning process that will not end until we join Him in Heaven.
Discipleship Produces a Change in You
John 1:42 (TPT)
Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. When he gazed upon Andrew’s brother, he prophesied to him, “You are Simon and your father’s name is Joh. But from now on, everyone will call you Cephas” (which means, Peter the Rock).
When Jesus first met Peter, the first thing He did was change his name. This can be a confusing concept for us, because most of us never think about changing our first name. However, changing of last names is much more common in our culture. When a couple gets married, one of the first things the new bride does is take the last name of her new husband. She may hyphenate in order to keep her last name, but in most cases, her husband’s new name becomes a part of her identity. Why? Because the relationship brings about a change.
When Jesus and Peter have their first interaction, Peter’s name was Simon which means “one who has heard.” Jesus took one look at Peter and said, “I’m going to change your name. Now you will be referred to as Peter, the rock.” A rock is something stable and strong. It is a source of strength and a firm foundation. Perhaps Jesus saw something in Peter that Peter had never even seen in himself.
Over the course of Jesus’ ministry, Peter didn’t always look like a rock. He was short-tempered, often brash, and had a propensity for shooting off his mouth at the wrong time. Even when he meant well, it wasn’t uncommon for Peter to seem less than stable in some cases. In fact, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Bible says that “Simon Peter said to them, ‘I’m going fishing.’” (John 21:3 NKJV).
In that moment, Peter wasn’t much of a rock. In that moment, he had not only readopted his former name, but he was even looking to go back to his former occupation. However, when Christ appeared to the disciples on the sea, Jesus continued to call him Peter.
While Jesus may not change your name, discipleship changes you. Your focus shifts from the things that are important to you onto the things that matter to God. Becoming a disciple of Christ truly transforms the person that you are. Peter never mentioned going back to fishing after this point. Instead, he became one of the most pivotal members of the early Church. You may even say he became a rock in the foundation of the New Testament Church.
Discipleship Includes Making Disciples
Matthew 28:19-20 (TPT)
Now wherever you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.
Before Jesus’ glorious ascension back to the Father, He left His disciples with one lasting command: to go and make more disciples. In Psalm 100:3, the Bible teaches us that we are the “sheep of His pasture.” Do you know what healthy sheep do? They produce more sheep. While a shepherd may start out with only a handful of sheep, if those sheep are healthy, his flock will grow. In John 10:11, Jesus said that He is our good shepherd, and we are His sheep. What does that mean for us? It means we should do our part to add sheep to His flock.
The primary point of discipleship isn’t to simply gain entry into Heaven. That’s a benefit, but it isn’t the purpose. Your job probably has benefits. Maybe you get paid vacation every year. Your employer offers that as a benefit, but that wasn’t their motive for hiring you. Instead, they hired you to perform a task. The benefits simply come with that. In the same vein, Christ didn’t save us simply so we could get into Heaven when our lives here are over. No, He saved us so we could make other disciples.
Discipleship is an all-transformative experience. All of a sudden, the things that used to hold top billing in your life fall down your list of priorities. You may even find some attributes that you didn’t know you possessed during your walk with Christ. Guess what? He knew about those traits when He saved you. Discipleship simply brings them out. Finally, being a disciple of Christ means that you go out and make other disciples. Something as simple as inviting someone to church can play a key role in producing new disciples. Exhibiting Godly living can cause others to want to know the Jesus that you profess for themselves. Being a disciple of Christ is one of the most thrilling experiences in the life of a believer.
A Closing Prayer:
God, thank You for saving me. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be Your disciple. Help me to constantly learn from You, to allow You to change me and to make other disciples. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.