What is a disciple of Jesus? This is an important question because a disciple is different that a believer.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 go and make disciples of all nations. He did not say go and make believers of all nations.
If we are to make disciples and not believers then we need to know what is a disciple?
The definition of a disciple is usually one who believes like Jesus. The common way Christian leaders make a disciple is then to teach someone all about the Bible and ensure that they believe those teachings. I submit to you that this is wrong.
The Western culture believes that information is the key to everything – including making a disciple. This is a byproduct of the Enlightenment period of the 1700’s that has so heavily influenced the West. While this period did bring many remarkable changes, it also brought the primacy of knowledge above all else.
A disciple is not one who believes correctly.
James 2:19 says that demons believe correctly about God but they are obviously not disciples. Belief alone does not make a disciple. You can believe correctly about everything in the Bible and still not be a disciple. This may make you a great theologian or teacher, but not a disciple.
A disciple is one who loves and obeys their Master.
John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
Luke 22:42 “…yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Love and obedience are the mark of a disciple.
A disciple is one who follows His Master trusting that His Master knows best.
A disciple is one who knows that as He follows His Master he will gain the knowledge he needs when he needs it.
A disciple is one who walks with His Master and as a result comes to know His Master.
Correct thinking is important. But when you love and obey the Master He has His own teacher to guide you into all of the truth – the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27). As you walk with the Master you will learn how He thinks. But just as important you will learn to be and do as He is.
This simple distinction of what a disciple is needs to be filtered through out all of Western Christianity. Our current programs of making disciples are information based methods of making disciples. We enroll new Christians into programs that are primarily composed of getting as much information about the Bible, God, ministry, etc. into their skulls as quickly as possible. We then have them recite this knowledge back correctly in some form. We then “graduate” them based on correct recitation of this knowledge.
This style of making disciples also limits who can disciple others to those who are extremely knowledgeable about Christianity and are also good communicators or teachers of that knowledge.
Biblical Experts are not needed to disciple others. Teachers are very important but they play a supportive role in the discipleship process. Disciple making does not end with teaching. Disciple making does not begin with teaching. We must teach people to get to know and love the Master first. We then teach them how to walk with Him on a regular basis obeying all that He tells us. This is the mark of discipleship. Anyone who knows the Master and walks with Him can disciple others. When a person is taught to walk with, love and obey the Master they will have the basics they need to grow as a Christian for the rest of their lives.
Love and obedience are the mark of a disciple. These two characteristics will turn Christianity in the West from an intellectual pursuit to one of transformation.
What are your thoughts?