from the practical aspect of Christian living - what is discipleship? In
reality, it is very simply the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
It is the lifelong developing process of living more and more in a manner that
portrays the very life of Jesus Christ in us and displayed in every aspect of
is discipleship an important part of any Christian’s life, and the spiritual
life of our congregations? There are four primary answers to this question.
This list is not an exhaustive list, nor an all-inclusive one. But these four
points do give us the primary categorization for the collection of reasons that
explain the importance of Christian discipleship.
Discipleship keeps the focus on Jesus
Christ! As discipleship takes place in the life of individual Christians
and specific Christian communities, everything should ideally be focused on
Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, (His rule
and authority) in their lives. Jesus is our King. Jesus is not an elected
official that we have decided fits into our lifestyle.
himself said that we should seek to serve in His Kingdom first and everything
else would fall into place. (Reference
Matthew 6:33) Jesus Christ is not a spiritual “Santa Claus” that
gives us everything we want – especially if we
have been “good little Christians”.
While Jesus Christ is indeed our closest friend, we must recognize His
sovereign authority in our lives - if we are to be productive servants in His
disciples we are not called to change the world socially, politically or
culturally. We are called to keep Jesus in the central focus of our lives. If
we do that, our world will be changed by Him – not us. The first and second
century Roman Empire is the obvious example of this. We would not be here today
had those early believers not kept Jesus Christ as the central focus of
everything they said and did.
stimulates Christ-like living! Good discipleship is
infectious. To become more like Jesus Christ is to see greater potentials as
His Holy Spirit controls and empowers us each and every day and in many
different ways. When we see our brothers and sisters in the Christian faith
portraying the attributes of Jesus Christ, it encourages us that it is possible
for us as Christians experiencing active discipleship, to know better how to
act and react in the world around us.
we as Christians living out these mortal lives reflect the principals of
Biblically based Christian living, we will appear less and less like the world
around us. Peter makes this issue integral to the Christian’s life of effective
discipleship in his first epistle. “Beloved,
I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage
war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that
in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of
your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
(1 Peter 2:11-12) It is interesting that Peter emphasizes that we are strangers
in the world. This is actually the reason we don’t have to live like the world
does. It is when we are uniquely different in our life styles, priorities and
motivations that the world around us can recognize that we are people who know
the one true living God.
Discipleship produces harmony in our
relationships! Discipleship is an interactive process, and so when
Christians are “making disciples” of
one another effectively, they grow together in purpose or a sense of emphasis
for serving in God’s Kingdom. They will also grow in doctrine, which means they
are growing in the understanding of the Scriptures and the applications of
God’s Word in daily living. And finally, they will be growing together in the
unity of their Christian world views. A world view is simply how one perceives
the world around them. As Christians, we view the world through the filer of
the Holy Scriptures and the life of Jesus Christ. We are not ever called to
determine the word around us through man made institutions such as CNN, MSNBC
or FOX. This produces a harmony of efforts that enhances our relationships as
fellow followers in Christ in very positive and productive ways.
Discipleship identifies necessary
boundaries. Because we are fellow believers in Jesus Christ involved in the
responsibilities of discipleship, we are knit together closer together in our
relationships. Thus, because of our love for each other as fellow believers in
Jesus, we should naturally become more careful in the processes of eliminating
problematic issues and blatant offences. No one involved in loving relationship
would ever want to destroy those involved in that same relationship.
is true because our lives are focused around the life of Jesus Christ and not
our own dreams, desires and preferences. That paradigm produces a higher level
of respect for and protection of each other, as we together become more like
Biblical based discipleship is consistently being developed within any given
Christian community such as a home or a congregation, a higher and purer level
of morality will be experienced. When Biblical discipleship is actively being
pursued in a group or congregation of sincere Christians there will be a
noticeable decline in the incidents of immorality and blatant sinful practice.
is because we are following Jesus Christ, not the urgings and temptations of
the world. Fellow Christians will more easily discern what is right from what
is wrong in their activities and what a healthy catalyst in life is from an
unhealthy one. They will also know what are safe practices in the various
environments of life are, rather than those which are dangerous ones.
moral boundaries create an obvious difference between a person who is actively
pursuing discipleship and one who isn’t. Likewise, these moral boundaries
create an obvious difference between a congregation who is actively pursuing
Christian discipleship and one that isn’t. These moral boundaries are extremely
important examples of the life of Jesus Christ who is living in us.