Discipleship: Overall View
When we read the Bible we read about disciples, but we may not have a clear understanding of what a disciple is. Jesus had twelve disciples that followed Him wherever He went. They spent three years with Him being disciples. What is a disciple and what is the meaning of discipleship? The root word for disciple in Greek means to learn or learner or follower. When someone is a disciple to a teacher, they are a learner of the teacher, and they are a follower of the teacher. The twelve disciples were learners and followers of Jesus. Jesus was constantly teaching His disciples what it takes to live for the glory of God. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive people Jesus replied, not only seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). Jesus was teaching His disciples the heart attitude needed to follow God.
Three characteristics of a follower of Jesus Christ.
First, we must make the decision whether Jesus has complete authority or not. This mental decision will determine whether we will give everything up to Jesus. We must understand that there is a cost in following Jesus and yet still be willing to follow Him (1). As men, we have a tendency to avoid asking for help. We think that we can solve all of the world’s problems with our own strength. It is hard to admit our weakness and our shortcomings. If we are called to be a follower of Jesus, it is important to give ourselves up and let Jesus be the king of our heart. We can only be a disciple of Jesus when we let Him be the authority of our life. This means we admit our weakness and ask for help.
Second, if we chose Jesus to have complete authority in our life, we will enter into a relationship with Him. This relationship is an intimacy with Jesus as He transforms and renews our soul and spirit. In the relationship with Jesus, He will help us develop our character to be more Christ-like (2). Some men have a hard time developing deep relationships. This deep relationship is the center of discipleship. This relationship is like all other relationships. How do we develop relationships with others? In my relationship with my wife, I have learned to talk with her. I have learned her needs and wants. I have learned how she communicates. I have learned to trust her. My wife and I have a deep intimacy that is outside of sex. This means that we as men have the same capability to develop a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus. The question is how do we talk with God, and how can we learn more about Jesus?
The third is when we are transformed and renewed, we want to take the action in sharing our experience with others. In this, we would share the Gospel and our personal testimony of our walk with Jesus. We would take this action to do so because of our understanding of the heart of Jesus and the love we received from Jesus (3). The disciple of Jesus is for the person who knows Jesus in the mind and knows Jesus in the heart to share Jesus with others (4).
(1) Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is–: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic, 2013), 26
(2) Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples, Exponential Series (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 49.
(3) Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is–: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, 27.
(4) Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington, Discipleshift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples, Exponential Series, 51.