I think there is often a lot of confusion about what the word disciple means in the context of the Christian faith.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.
And I am unabashedly bold in my belief that life as a disciple of Jesus is simply better than life not as a disciple — and I believe that is true for every person ever born.
And I believe that being a disciple of Jesus — at its core — entails three things: (1) an acknowledgement of who He is; (2) a decision to follow Him; and (2) a desire to become more like Him.
WHO IS HE?
Well, in terms of what I believe, here is a pretty good summary:
[I] believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
Perhaps, more simply: Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Almighty God, Savior of the World, Jewish Messiah.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO FOLLOW HIM?
We throw that phrase around a lot, at least in evangelical Christianity. What does it actually look like?
I think it is as simple as going where He goes, doing what he does.
Now this isn’t as hard as it sounds?
Where does He go? We know that God is everywhere. So wherever we go, He is there already.
And what does He do?
Well we could make a list of things he did in the Gospel… feed the hungry, heal the sick, teach his followers, challenge religious and political leaders, etc etc.
But more simply, we know from the Bible that all of these things fall under a simple overarching theme: LOVE.
Jesus loved every person He came into contact with. He brought light and life into every situation. He injected grace and goodness wherever he went.
And do should we.
That is why Jesus taught about love so much.
In summary, He says, “love God, love others.” And in case I wasn’t clear, “love each other… for that is how the world will know that you are my disciples.”
And if you aren’t sure what live really looks like, it is this: to lay your life down for your friend.
For your friend… your neighbor… and even your enemy.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO BECOME MORE LIKE HIM?
“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
— 1 John 2:6
While we can never become god, we can be godly. And while we will never be perfect like Christ, we can become increasingly Christ-like in our character.
And that is the key word: character.
God is much more interested in our character than our importance, careers, success, failures, etc. When we talk about sanctification, we are talking about character formation. It is not about becoming less like ourselves. The best me is the me God created me to be. In other words, I most glorify God when I live into the fullness and uiqueness of who He made me. God doesn’t want to change my personality, quirks or things that make me uniquely who I am. But He does want tio help me to develop my character into full maturity. And he wants to help me heal my hurts, overcome my bad habits, and get past my hang-ups.
He wants me to develop Christ-like characteristics in my life: grace, generorosity, self-sacrifice, purpose. In short, he wants me to become more loving — of God, of my brothers and sisters in Christ, my neighbors, and even my enemies.
SO WHAT IS DISCIPLESHIP?
In short, it is RESPONDING TO THE LOVE OF CHRIST BY LOVING OTHERS THE WAY HE DID AND STRIVING TO BECOME BETTER LOVERS — of God, brother/sister, neighor… and even my enemies.
And that is what it means to be a DISCIPLE OF CHRIST (imho).