D I S C I P L E ?
By Bishop Damon Swan
In Matthew 28:19 Jesus directed his disciples to go into the world and make disciples. This was not an optional command from Jesus but an obligation. As the disciples learned from Jesus and followed Jesus they were coming to the end of their tutoring and are now being told to make disciples of others. This might not have been such a taunting task since they knew what Jesus taught. What they may not have understood was just how involved it might be.
How do you know if someone is a disciple? John 8:31 gives us a little insight when Jesus addressed the Jews that believed on him and said “If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” Jesus also tells us in John 13:35, “by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”
To “continue” in his word indicates an ongoing process and to “love one another” is not a momentary event. Being a disciple of Christ is not an act of accomplishment but a life of continued service of loving the Saints and abiding in his word. There are no degree programs for discipleship and you will never walk across a stage to received a diploma for the accomplishment of loving and living out Jesus’ words.
Too often people view their Christian life as an accomplishment that took place on the day they accepted Jesus as their savior, as if it was of their own doing. If there was anything accomplished on that day it would be the accomplishment of Christ Jesus. All glory belongs to him. As important as the day of salvation may be for a person, it is not “fait accompli”. It is only the beginning of a life long journey of learning and following Jesus. In other words, being a disciple of Christ. This is not a life that is to be lived haphazardly but we are to deliberately live by his word and deliberately love one another.
Warning! A disciplined life with Christ is interrupted, if not halted, when He is not the most important thing in our lives. In Mark 10:17 a rich young man approached Jesus and asked what he needed to do to be saved. He simply wanted the benefit of eternal life and he had the resources to find out how it could be achieved. Jesus listed many of the 10 commandments and the young man replied that those things he had done since birth. Then Jesus looked at him, “loved him” and said, “one thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
Jesus loved the young man enough to tell him the hard thing he must do to follow him and be his disciple. Unwilling to surrender all his possessions, he sadly walked away. He had decided that his possessions were more important than being a disciple of Jesus. The price was too high. Too often our motive for surrendering is only that we might gain. This is no surrender at all. Total surrender, true discipleship, must not be motivated by what we may gain in life but because of our love for our Savior.
God has called us to be committed, sold out, as we walk in love and the fulness of his word. We must be more than what we proclaim (Christians) but to the glory of God, we are to be disciples. Our lives, our living, is to be hid in him. Paul reminds in 2 Cor. 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”.
With the sufficiency of God we can be disciples and also disciple others.