Discipleship: My Definition
In the previous blog I put together an overview of discipleship and its three characteristics. Disciples of Jesus are people who know Jesus in the mind and know Jesus in the heart and share Jesus with others (1). Here is my extended definition of discipleship: a disciple of Jesus is a person following Jesus by being a lifetime learner of Jesus, which leads to falling more and more in love with Him, causing the person to be obedient to Jesus resulting from the love that person holds for Him.
1) Following Jesus: In order for a person to be a disciple of Jesus the person must acknowledge that he/she believes in what Jesus has done. Once he/she has received salvation, Jesus will ask that person to follow Him, just as the disciples were asked to follow Jesus. As Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). It is the same when Jesus asked Matthew (Levi) to follow Him. (Mark 2:14) Following Jesus means the person is to go where He leads and believers are to place Jesus as number one in their life. (John 12:26)
2) Being a lifetime learner of Jesus: Jesus is God (Philippians 2:6). That means Jesus is omniscient. Jesus knows the will of the Father and He will reveal the truth to His believers (Matthew 11:27). Also, in the Great Commission when someone makes a disciple the next step is to baptize them in the Trinity and teach the new disciple everything that Jesus commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20) This means disciples are to be learning about Jesus and His words.
3) Falling in love with Jesus: As a person learns more about Jesus and what He has done, he/she will realize how much God loves him/her. This causes the person to love Jesus for what He did. God gave up His only Son so that men may be redeemed. (John 3:16)
4) Being obedient to Jesus: The result of love is action. Love is not just an emotion, but becomes complete by action. When a person learns more about Jesus, he/she learns that Jesus loves all people and has compassion for them. Jesus gave a new command “that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) This requires an action to love others, not just an emotion. This love is agape love which causes the person take action.
5) Resulting in an overall love for Jesus: Because of the action of the believers “all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) The action of love is the completion of what the person believes in. The result is showing how much one loves Jesus.
My fellow men, we are called to follow Jesus and to obey His commands. His commands are not to limit us from greatness, but instead it promotes deeper intimacy with Him. Everything the Bible teaches is for our benefit. We are to be discipled by Jesus and we are to disciple others. The former is for us to be in a right relationship with God. We can and should be disciplined by God. Having a relationship with God is to develop disciplines. There are many disciplines, but it is a matter of whether we are willing to be disciplined. The latter is the result of the former. Because of our love for Jesus, we are willing to help others and to disciple others. The command is easy; it is to teach disciples the command that Jesus has taught us to obey (Matthew 28:20). I pray that each man is willing to develop disciplines and be a disciple for Jesus which leads to making disciples.
(1) 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.