Page 12 - October2012BrowardGoodNews

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Jeremy McKeen
Good News
What comes to mind when
you think of discipleship? Is
discipleship a life of moral reform
or inner spirituality? Is discipleship
serving soup lines and social
activism in the name of Jesus? Is
discipleship a doctrinal course or
a forty-day Bible program that a
person completes and then
suddenly pops out as a disciple?
Discipleship has become one of
the Christian “buzz words” today,
and for good reason. Thankfully,
there seems to be a growing
group of young people who are
seriously seeking to follow Christ
and obey his command to “make
disciples.” But what is a disciple?
Why is discipleship so important
anyway? What is the nature of
true discipleship? And what’s the
process
for
Christians
to
effectively make disciples of
Christ?
The Importance of Discipleship
Christianity is a life of
discipleship. A Christian is
someone who has responded to
the voice of Jesus saying, “Come
and follow me,” and Jesus couldn’t
be clearer. Jesus doesn’t want fans
who just listen and applaud him;
Jesus wants followers who learn
from him and obey him. And one
of his commands is to “Go and
make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you”
(Matthew 28:19-20a). For Jesus,
discipleship is not an optional
second step in Christianity for
those who are “truly committed;”
rather discipleship
is
Christianity.
A Christian is called to both be a
disciple and make disciples. But
does this mean that discipleship is
just a bunch of rules that a person
must try harder to conform to?
What is the nature of biblical,
gospel-centered discipleship?
The Nature of Discipleship
The New Testament word
for disciple means “student” or
“learner,” and the learning never
stops. In the first century a
disciple actually lived with his
Rabbi where he learned what was
taught and modeled in a variety
of ways. Jesus is your Rabbi.
Therefore, discipleship is a life-
long comprehensive process of
learning from Jesus. He is your
instructor.
Every
human
instructor who teaches the truth
is merely pointing to what Jesus
is teaching. This is why he says,
“…teaching them to observe all
that I’ve commanded you.” And
what was Jesus’ first and central
command? “Repent and believe
in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). This
means that discipleship begins
with communicating the need
for God’s cleansing and forgiving
work of the Holy Spirit on the
basis of Christ’s life, death, burial
and resurrection. A person must
first receive and rest in what Jesus
has already accomplished before
he or she can be empowered to
respond with joy to Jesus’ other
commands. A disciple learns
from Jesus by first “sitting at his
feet” and hearing the blessings of
the gospel received by grace, yet
also following in his steps that
align with the truth of the gospel.
It is both learning the doctrines
of Christ and living them out in
loving devotion to Christ and the
world. Pastor Francis Chan
compares this second aspect of
discipleship with the game
“follow the leader.” If the leader
rubs his head, you rub your head.
If the leader pats his stomach,
you pat your stomach. In other
words, you do what they do. You
go where they go. No one follows
the leader by just sitting on the
couch and saying, “I’m following
you in my heart man, I’m rubbing
my head in my heart.” What
would you think of a lady who
speaks about how great her local
physician is yet never follows the
doctor’s prescriptions? Or what
about the man who wants to lose
weight but continually tells the
trainer, “I believe in you, but I
don’t want to do anything that
makes me uncomfortable.” Yet,
this is the way many people can
view discipleship – a process of
just finding out what is true
instead of also following what is
true. So what does this practically
look like?
The Process of Discipleship
Christians should view
themselves as full-time students
in the ongoing school of Christ.
But where do these classes take
place? At church on Sunday?
Over coffee with a mentor? In
someone’s home or at the mall
with a friend? The answer is, yes,
all of the above. Your life, in every
aspect and through a variety of
people and means is the
classroom that Christ is teaching
you in. Discipleship is not an
intensive weekend program; it’s a
gradual
life-long
process.
Discipleship can’t be packaged,
marketed and sold. It takes time,
patience, a lot of work, and faith
in the ordinary means of grace.
Disciples of Christ hear the word
preached on Sundays, pour out
their souls to God in praise and
prayer, study and meditate upon
the Bible, witness and give their
lives away to the poor. Moreover,
a disciple of Christ is not like
Rambo, trying to take on the
world alone. Rather, they live in
community with fellow saints
from various backgrounds, where
patterns of behavior are passed
on, a lot of times without even
realizing it. Think of parents who
are suddenly surprised at what
they see their child do. They ask,
“Hey, where did you learn to do
that?” The child more than likely
“picked it up” from the parents’
example in practice, not directly
from their verbal precept. When
a woman listens to another
woman in the church respond to
her husband with respect and
care for her children, she is being
discipled. When a younger man
observes how an older man in the
church responds in faith in a time
of great need, he is being
discipled. The life of discipleship
is long, hard and complex, but it’s
the only life of true freedom,
which is so important to grasp.
For in a culture that says, “just
follow your heart and you’ll be
free,” the true liberating voice of
Jesus says, “Come and followme.”
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DIG DEEP
12
November 2012
Good News - Broward Edition
Rethinking Discipleship