A disciple of Christ is one who makes Christ the Lord of his life.
Then he said to them all, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Notice he said we are to do three things:
Take up our crosses daily
In the previous posts in this series we have been looking at denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily. We have looked at the disciplines we need in our relationship with God and with others. Now we are going to look at how these disciplines bear fruit in ministry.
The third commitment mentioned in Luke 9:23 is following Christ. Jesus followed his Heavenly Father. He learned from his Father all the truth he taught. He did all of his work with the Father’s power. The Father revealed his will to Jesus. Jesus was authorised as his Father’s representative (see John 5:19-43). Just as Jesus followed God, disciples are to follow Jesus.
Why should Christians want to follow Jesus? Because they want to be with him. Following Jesus involves being with Jesus to be equipped to win and to disciple others. Denying yourself is a question of loyalty. Taking up your cross daily is about obedience. Following Christ is about fellowship – living in him and him in us.
If we live in Christ, we eventually will bear fruit. Fruit does not necessarily grow quickly; but it grows continually and bears in season. Fruit bearing is the normal, natural result of a life that has Christ at the centre.
Look again at the circle in the centre of the cross in the light of John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Our lives in Christ should continue to grow and expand. Fruit bearing also relates to the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal.5:22-23). As the fruit of the Spirit grow in your life, you reach out to others through ministry and service of all kinds.
Living in the Word leads to a ministry of teaching or preaching.
Praying in faith will lead to a ministry of worship or intercession.
Fellowshipping with believers leads to a ministry of nurture to members of the church.
Witnessing to the world leads to a ministry of evangelism.
Along both sides of the horizontal bar we have a ministry of service. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no-one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” These five ministry areas comprise the entire ministry of a disciple and of Christ’s church.
Our goal in discipleship is expressed in 2 Timothy 2:21: “If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work.” And Paul told the Ephesians, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph.2:10)
We need to grow in all five disciplines to be prepared for the Master’s use. If we develop all of these disciplines, our lives will be balanced and fruitful.
[Adapted from MasterLife Discipleship Training for Leaders by Avery T Willis Jr 1980]