We’ve thrown this word around a lot at our church. Disciple. If you’ve been in church for long, that idea (especially when paired up with -ship) has the connotation of sitting in a Sunday School Classroom, listening to someone talk about the Bible – and usually boring you to tears. The meaning of the word has been hijacked to mean knowing stuff about the Bible. While the word disciple has been used, in all reality what we have become is students.
But, what does it really mean? It must mean something, because Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, it must be a pretty big deal. I don’t think Jesus would have chosen the word disciple if he just wanted us to be students. If He wanted us to know a lot about stuff, he probably wouldn’t have taught in parables – he would have just given us a list to memorize.
But He didn’t give us a list. He used stories because he wanted us to learn both truth and action. Yes, He wanted us to know things. BUT, He also wanted us to change everything about how we live.
Okay, so what does the word really mean? It means apprentice. It means a follower. It means someone who studies a person and how they live, and then tries to model their life after that. Yes they were to be students, but students who learn how to live. Not just students who learn to pass a test.
In Jesus’ time, disciples would follow around their rabbit (which means teacher) everywhere. They’d notice how he lived, how he handled situations, how he answered questions, how he dealt with problems and listen to his teaching. And with Jesus’ disciples, they followed him around for 3 years. They were with Jesus, pretty much all day – every day, for three years.
We all do this. Probably not intentionally, but we all do it. When we make a friend and start hanging out with them, we start to become like them. When we start dating someone, we start to act like them. Then after you get married and spend years and years with the same person, you really start to act like each other.
Yet, for today, we have no understanding of what it really means to be a disciple. Most of us thing that being a disciple is something that just happens when you “become a Christian.” But it doesn’t. It takes time and intentionality. It takes purpose. Just because you’ve been a Christian for a year, a decade or a generation – DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE A DISCIPLE!
A disciple Educates, Imitates & Replicates.
A disciple does have to learn things. You have to know what to do before you can do it. That was why Jesus taught so much. So the disciples could learn everything they needed to know so they could do what they needed to do. We learn by studying God’s word, and observing other disciples. We need to dig into God’s word and we need to have someone in our life who has been a disciple longer than us to show us how they do it.
As you’re getting educated on what to do, then you have to start to imitate that in your own life. The more you know, the more you have to start to do. Just knowing stuff doesn’t cut it. You actually have to change your life.
The last phase of being a disciple is to find someone to start discipling. We don’t stop when we think we’ve become a disciple. We’re not a true disciple of Jesus until we’ve started making more disciples. This means we need to be living like Christ in front of the 8 to 15 people God has put in our lives for us to reach for His kingdom. As we reach them, and they want to become disciples, then we start to teach them what it means to be a disciple.
This isn’t a casual thing.
This isn’t just changing our cultural label. We don’t just slap Christian on ourselves, and call it good. This is intense. It’s Big. It’s Life-altering. But it’s completely and totally worth it. Because when we start to reorient our lives around Jesus, Jesus can do amazing things in and through us.
And we don’t get to choose. If we’ve put our faith in Jesus Christ, we MUST become disciples who make disciplemakers. We don’t get to just say we’re a Christian to get a free pass to Heaven. We have to lay down our life and the pursuits that we had – and pick up Jesus’ plan for our lives.
Why Should I Do This?
Because this is why Jesus came. He didn’t just come to gain a multitude of fans. He came to get a multitude of followers. He came to change the world. And the world has most definitely been changed.
But, there is still SO MUCH WORK to do. The world is just as desperate for a savior as it ever has been. And we have the answer to their desperation.
That’s why we should do this. Because there’s a desperate world who’s eternal destiny is Hell. And if we don’t get out there and be true disciples, they’ll never hear the words that can not only keep them from going there, but lead them to the most rewarding life on the planet.