Discipleship is Critical for The Future of The Church
One of the terms that is often spoken about but rarely addressed in the church in discipleship. What does it mean to be a “disciple” of Christ? Jesus answers this question repeatedly in the Gospels. To be a disciple is to simply follow Jesus (please see scripture list below). It sounds so simple but in reality, we all tend to resist. In the flesh we want to walk by sight and not by faith. It is only when we “die to self” that we can rid ourselves of the desires of the flesh and “crave pure spiritual milk.”
A disciple is constantly seeking God’s face and striving to know Him and loves Him. To know God is to know love and love is not meant to be hoarded but to be shared with others. True love of God is obedience to Him and is summarized in Matthew 22:37-40. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” In the letters of St. Paul he repeatedly urges us to show love to each other. Jesus tells us in John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I am reminded of the beautiful song “Pass it On” by Kurt Kaiser (1969). The first verse is as follows:
It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread His love to everyone
Before you can practice effective discipleship, you must honestly examine your own spiritual life. Talk with your pastor and accountability group and pray for discernment. We are all clay in His hands and as such we are a work in progress. We should always be seeking to “achieve perfection” which can only be achieved by growing closer to Christ. We all have spiritual gifts and a unique story to tell. For example, if you have survived cancer, you are uniquely positioned to minister to someone going through the same situation. You can practice effective discipleship by never mentioning a single scripture. The effectiveness of your witness is not determined by your Biblical knowledge but rather by your sincerity and your presence. A disciple has the love of Christ and we as humans are innately drawn to that love. However, if we don’t have love we can’t pass on love. And if no one shows us love, we cannot receive love. I urge you to fill your hearts with the love of Jesus and prayerfully consider how you can share that love at home, work, and the world. Be blessed.
Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Matthew 19:28 “Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Mark 1:17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Mark 10:21 “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 5:27 “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him,
Luke 18:22 “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
John 1:38 “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
John 1:43 “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 21:19 “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Todd is a Member of Gulf South Men, President of drtoddshupe.com and a Christian blogger at toddshupe.com and todd-shupe.com.