The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘discipleship’ as ‘a personal follower of Jesus.‘ This is interesting, since when the word was used in Jesus’ time, his only personal followers were the twelve Jesus chose, and they didn’t understand who he really was.
In the New Testament disciples were followers of a teacher or Rabbi. They didn’t just attend weekly meetings, they spent a lot of time together – disciples watched how the Rabbi lived and tried to imitate him.
Dallas Willard said that discipleship is ‘knowing how to live their life as Jesus would live their life, if he were they.‘
Today discipleship is counter-cultural:
* We are haphazard & it’s intentional
* We are busy & it’s about stillness
* We are aware of rights & it’s about service
* We are about choice & it’s about sacrifice
* We are about instant & it’s about growth
* We are about ability & it’s about being made
* We are about outward & it’s about inward
* We are about individualism & it’s about community
The early church:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
Notice that all the believers were together: All kinds of people – believers and doubters, men and women, those who had followed from the beginning and new converts. Church is about journeying together, working through the questions of life.
Discipleship is about people not programmes. Think of someone who has been a significant influence in your life – they gave you time above all.
We teach what we know, we reproduce what we are. John C Maxwell
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
The love thing is really challenging, and it draws our attention. But notice this: you can be a disciple. Jesus expected us to be disciples. A challenge but also a privilege.