Hello, Beloved! I am so glad you want to learn more about being a disciple of Jesus. As I follow Him and learn, I love sharing what He is teaching me. Are you like me – sometimes the lessons are easy and sometimes they come through tears and suffering? This road is narrow and full of opportunities to be led astray, but if we will follow close behind our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will walk in victory and make it home safely! Hallelujah! What joy it will be to hear, “Well done, My good and faithful servant!”
So, what is a “disciple” and why is “discipleship” important? When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” what did that mean then, and what does it mean now? When Jesus called Matthew (Matt. 5:27-28), the Bible says, “he left everything behind, and rose up and began to follow Him.” Once he obeyed the call to follow, Matthew became a “disciple” of Jesus Christ. He became a full-time student, or learner, of Jesus. Everything Jesus was, said, and did became His disciples’ focus and study with a clear purpose: to become like Him. Has anything changed since then?
Being a disciple of Jesus during the 21st Century may appear different because of the world in which we live, but the call to become like Him through obedience has remained the same. We may not be leaving a boat and fish behind, but total surrender to the will of God is still required. When you were told of your need for salvation, and all the blessings of being a child of God, did the one proclaiming the Good News also tell you to “count the cost?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in The Cost of Discipleship, “…discipleship can tolerate no conditions which might come between Jesus and our obedience to Him.” What might those “conditions” be for you? Can you follow Jesus and continue in the same career? Can you be like Him and continue to spend money as you do? Does being His disciple mean a radical change of everything you have set in motion for your life? Only you can answer these questions because He calls each of us within our individual circumstances. Yet, the call to surrender is the same.
While we must count the cost, as does a builder before erecting a house, we must also celebrate the truth of all that is gained by becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul, in Ephesians 1:3, says that we have every spiritual blessing. He also says, in 2 Corinthians 9:8, that “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times you may abound in every good work.” Tozer adds a modern perspective regarding the cost of discipleship: “Whatever he may lose, he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever” (The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer). And as was written of Jonathan Edwards, “He found God worth seeking in every possible moment of life and by every God-given means – regardless of the cost” (A God Entranced Vision of All Things, Piper & Taylor). Being a disciple of Jesus is the only life worth living.
So why is the process of discipleship important? Is an athlete born ready for the Olympics? Is a soldier ready for war the first time he puts on a uniform? Is a fisherman ready for the sea the first time she smells the ocean breeze? Becoming is a process. We need time and the help of God’s Spirit, His Word, and other disciples who have been on this road longer than we have. And with God’s help, we grow to realize that “in every aspect of life, in small and large acts, with family, neighbors and enemies, we are to seek to live out the grace and truth of Jesus” (Called, Mark Labberton). The importance of becoming like Jesus is not just for our own refinement, or sanctification. We must keep in mind that God’s plan is the redemption of sinners and as a disciple of Jesus, we have been called to be an instrument of grace used by God to reach others. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 is not a suggestion. We have been commanded to “make disciples.” Obedience to Him means discipleship is not only of great importance, it is the command of our lives. Obedience is the evidence of faith. Obedience precedes blessing. Obedience is the outflowing of a heart surrendered to the call to follow Jesus and be His disciple.