There is a great movement among evangelical circles today around creating disciples. The catch phrase seems to be we should be “disciples who make disciples who make disciples.” Certainly there is nothing wrong with this teaching, and it has been pushed forward by many for whom I have a great deal of respect. With all the fervor surrounding the movement, I have wondered if this was simply a new cover on the age-old evangelical strategy of getting as many people as possible to convert to Jesus.
I have a great aversion to the “I said the prayer so I’m good” model of Christianity, and in fact have the terrifying suspicion many who thought “they were good” will be anything but that when they die. Given this, I thought it necessary to take a deep dive into the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?”
Discipleship is much more than inflating the number of people making commitments to Christ. Without a process of walking side by side with the potential disciple, discipleship is not likely to happen. Put simply, making a disciple necessitates forging a relationship with someone else, modeling Christ’s life for them, and helping them live in a similar manner. It is difficult to make a disciple if you are not living as one yourself.
So what does it mean to be a disciple? Not surprisingly, the life of a disciple looks like the life of Jesus. Their sole intent is to do the will of God. A disciple has no desires or aspirations outside of the mission of Jesus. Christ was the most selfless person to ever walk this earth, so we too must become totally selfless. Christ was kind and compassionate to those of lower station; He always had time for people in need; we must also. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to the religious leaders of His day, wasn’t too proud to be homeless and hungry, and did not shy away from being tortured and put to death for His mission. Our courage must be like His, something that will only be possible through His power. The full extent of that power, not coincidentally, is only available to true disciples.
You can’t be a disciple of Jesus unless and until your life is fully devoted to Him. You can’t be a disciple until you come to the point of realizing your life is not about you and only about Him. Discipleship is neither easy nor is it for everyone. The road is narrow and few are those who will choose it (Matthew 7:13-14). This isn’t about saying a prayer or proclaiming your love for God. It’s an all-in, sold-out, selfless commitment to live as Jesus lived. We all must ask ourselves, are we really living as a disciple of Jesus? For those who choose to truly follow, they will find a life more rich, joyful, and significant than they could have ever imagined. Ultimately they will spend eternity with the Savior who created them, pursued them, and loved them beyond measure. That’s the reward for discipleship and it is worth every sacrifice it requires.