What is a disciple?

How can I live a life of discipleship?

I think we’re all asking the question for different reasons.  Some of us ask the question “What is a disciple?” because we want to become one.  Some of us are asking because we want to know if we already are one.  Others of us want to know if the people next to us are.  Others of us want to know what we need to do to be one.  The answer to that is simple.

  • Trust in Jesus
  • Trust in Jesus
  • Trust in Jesus

We want to know what disciples do because that makes things easy.  If we just do what is required then we know where we stand.  We either checked all the boxes and completed the list or we didn’t.  It makes it easier to wrap our mind around.  Easier to judge.

Reality is a whole lot messier.  And a whole lot more beautiful.

For Jesus, a disciple is not defined by what they do.  It is not a title that is earned or achieved.  No, discipleship is a relationship built and founded upon trust.

  • Disciples trust that they are God’s children no matter what (Galatians 3:26)
  • Disciples trust that Jesus died for them even when they were at their worst.  (1 Timothy 1:15)
  • Disciples trust that who God has declared them to be (His beloved) is who they are – no matter what their consciences, the devil, or the world says. (Revelation 12:10)
  • Disciples trust in all of God’s promises even when they seem impossible.  (Luke 18:17)
  • Disciples trust that we aren’t judged by rules but by a relationship. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Disciples trust that God’s way is the best way.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • Disciples trust that when they do what He asks them to do, and go where He calls them to go, He will be there with them.  (Matthew 10:26-31)

Now, don’t misunderstand me – disciples do lots.  Disciples do serve and sacrifice.  Disciples do obey God’s Word.  They do show compassion and mercy, they do live in peace and show generosity.  Disciples learn from Jesus and follow His narrow way.  They do pray, do read their bibles, do go to worship, do join communities of believers, and do give their money to serve the Gospel

Disciples also don’t do.  They don’t lie or cheat, gossip or steal.  They don’t lust or lie.  They are not materialistic.  They don’t disobey, don’t use God’s name flippantly, and certainly don’t bow down to other gods.

But those dos and donts don’t make them disciples.  Jesus makes them disciples.  His love makes them who they are.  His sacrifice, His forgiveness, His acceptance defines your discipleship.  It’s the dos and donts that flow from that identity, that follow that work of Christ.

I hope, as Christ’s disciple, you do lots.  I hope you read the Bible and say your prayers.  I hope join a Bible study, show up at worship, and devote yourself to a life of service and sacrifice.  But, I also hope that you don’t define your discipleship by those things.  Let Jesus define your discipleship for you.  Let His love and sacrifice define who you are.  Let His promise be your identity.

And in a joyous response to all that – do what Jesus did.

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