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What does it mean to be a disciple?

todayNovember 15, 2022 66

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It’s worth nothing that the word ‘Christian(s)’ is only used three times in the Bible (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16), while ‘disciple(s)’ appears around 270 times. So what does it mean?

Bible scholars have likened the role to that of an apprentice: someone who learns from an expert and replicates what he or she does. Another definition is ‘follower’: someone who follows Jesus and becomes more like him day by day. The term is linked to the word ‘discipline’, because as disciples we need to live our lives in a way that conforms to his word rather than to our whims.

“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’” (John 8:31). Shortly after this, he said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

This all sounds pretty straightforward. All we need to do is follow his teaching love one another. Simple, right? Well, first of all we need to know what Jesus’ teaching is if we are to hold to it. That means reading the Bible, spending time with him in prayer and hanging out with other disciples. True discipleship is a life-changing and lifelong commitment. And it means showing love for one another in the good times and the bad – even when people are annoying and hurt us!

If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ we must:

  1. Be born again (John 3:3)
  2. Love God with everything we have, and love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31)
  3. Worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:24)
  4. Pray continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  5. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
  6. Keep his word and put it into action (John 14:23; James 1:22-25)
  7. Develop the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25)
  8. Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48)
  9. Believe that God exists and trust in him (Hebrews 11:6)
  10. Be open about our faith and share the good news with others (Matthew 5:16; Matthew 28:16-20)

If we follow someone we will go wherever he goes, do whatever he does and say whatever he says. We will spend time with him and talk about him in glowing terms with other people. We might even end up looking like him as we become more like him in character. As apprentices of Christ we will do things exactly the way he does them instead of trying to do everything our own way. We will emulate him in all that we do. And we will do so in such an authentic way that it will attract others to a life of discipleship.

Matthew 16:24-25 says: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

Are you ready to lose your life for Jesus?

Written by: Steven Grimmer

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