Discipleship - Growing God's Kingdom.
All Christians claim to be disciples of Jesus or act like a disciple but then, what does it mean to be a disciple? A disciple in Christian context is a person who is a pupil or adherent to the doctrines of Christianity, one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of Jesus or any follower of Christ. In one way or another, we are disciples already, not necessarily disciples of Jesus but we are disciples of something or somebody. Maybe you have a favorite writer, or a sports star/club that you are an ardent fan of. Perhaps there’s a person that you work with that you try to learn from. That makes you a disciple of that somebody or something.
What makes Christian discipleship unique is that we are not only called to learn the teachings of Jesus but there is also an appeal to live them. There is solid foundation in discipleship based on Jesus’ teachings as elaborated in Luke 6:24, that such a disciple is “like a person building a house, who dug a deep hole to lay the foundation on rock”. When one decides to be saved, Jesus will begin changing him/her from the inside, giving him the ability to understand His word and the desire to live it.
For one to be a disciple, there are many sacrifices that one must be ready to make. Although God’s grace is offered to us freely in Christ, when one decides to follow him it comes with sacrifice letting go the old life and putting on our new life in Christ.
“..So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own..” Luke 14:33.
Luke 14 frequently points out the cost of discipleship. If we’re going to follow Jesus, if we’re going to be citizens of the kingdom of God, then we are to humble ourselves (Luke 14:11) “hate” our family (Luke 14:26), and carry our cross (Luke 14:27).
To make matters even more uncomfortable, the scripture says:
“So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own” (Luke 14:33).
The first disciples had to do this literally in the sense that they left home, work, and family in order to follow Jesus. While they hung on to a few possessions, like their clothing, the original disciples paid a high price to follow Jesus.
Luke 14 is one chapter that has been interpreted in several ways by priests. One customizes the meaning to suit his own understanding and imposes the same on others. Many questions arise from this chapter: Should we sell everything we own or give it all away? Is this what Jesus wants from us? From the teachings and actions of Jesus, He does not require sale or forfeiting of all possessions. Jesus speaks figuratively in Luke 14. When we decide to follow Jesus, we do give up everything to him: our lives, our ambitions, our relationships, our talents, and our stuff. We recognize that God is the true owner of all that we consider to be ours, and we commit it all to him and his purposes. This can be put in action by giving time and ‘money’ to Christ. All worldly possessions belong to Him.
According to allaboutGod.com, a Christian non-profit organization, the following are some of the changes that disciples will endure in their new life in Christ:
● As we read God’s Word, we learn about Jesus and how He lived. We begin to understand what it means to be like Jesus. We learn to put Him first in all things (Mark 8:34-38).
● We become equipped to listen to the Holy Spirit, who lives within us. He helps us resist temptation and overcome trials (Ephesians 6:10-18).
● We learn how to examine our thoughts, actions, and words—always comparing them with Scripture. We want to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).
● We begin to understand what it means to “abide in Christ.” As we abide, the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These aren’t things we can conjure up on our own. They are produces by the Holy Spirit—a change from the inside out (Galatians 5:22-23).
● We start loving other people through action (John 13:35).
● We long to share our faith with others and tell unbelievers about the changes Jesus has made in our lives (1 Peter 3:15)
And while it is true that when we become Christians, we are called to make disciples of others, we have to remember that discipleship has to start somewhere. Nobody becomes a disciple or a disciple-maker overnight. God knows our hearts; He understands that we are going to have to take baby steps to get from point A to point B. Therefore, don’t let all that “make disciples” talk frighten you away from seeking Christ and becoming His disciple.
The defining trait of any Christian disciple is faith. Faith in God will give us the power to become disciples, and to make more disciples by leading others to faith. To all the readers I encourage you to have faith in Christ, take a leap to accept Christ in your life and help grow the kingdom of God by influencing others to be disciples of Christ.
Let us cultivate more disciples into His vineyard!