I understand Student or Protégé; Apprentice or Scholar; but Disciple? This is not a term we use very often outside of our comfortable religious circles. But it is a common reference in our churches and we talk and write a lot about discipleship. So what does it mean to be a disciple or for that matter, what does it mean to be a Christian? Is it enough to say that you follow the teachings of Christ? And if that is enough, what does it mean to “follow” Christ?
“Following” neither describes activity or involvement! One might say, “I am a Christian because I go to church.” Then when you go into the garage are you a car? Or if you go into a gym are you an athlete? I wish! The act of going or doing – in and of itself – does not describe who you are or what you believe. It is only an activity.
To be an athlete, one must do more than exercise. There is a change in the nature of an individual that claims this title. A true athlete decides to be an athlete and then acts accordingly. It is not enough to practice and train more or eat and indulge less; it is a decision to be different than the average…to be more than the ‘cream of the crap‘…to be changed! Those who excel in their chosen sport will all refer a mindset; a mental attitude – 10% perspiration, 90% inspiration.
If these are the qualities of an athlete, then perhaps there is a lesson for us who call ourselves Christian, Christ-follower or Disciple! When we claim the saving grace of Christ as our own, He gives us a new Nature; He gives us His nature. Does this result in a changed life or merely a described life? The title of “Christian” should identify a change from who we were to who we are becoming like…it should describe a ‘changed‘ us! The mindset of a champion for the Christian is literally to have Christ’s mind placed within us. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.” Philippians 2:5
It only makes sense that if we want to know what it takes to be a disciple of Christ, perhaps we should see what Christ, Himself had to say about being one of His disciples. In fact, there are only 6 times that Jesus makes a statement that “to be His disciple, we should or should not _______”.
We are going to call these things, The 6 Marks of Discipleship. These are not the only markers that would indicate that we are followers of Christ. These are just the six that Jesus talks about. Would it surprise you to know that none of the six that Jesus mentions include:
- Bible Reading
I will not spoil the surprise and tell you the list of 6 now. We will develop this over several posts…so stay tuned! For now, read what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said about following Christ and see if you have taken the first step:
If we would follow Jesus, we must take certain definite steps. The first step, which follows the call, cuts the disciple off from his previous existence…The first step places the disciple in the situation where faith is possible. If he refuses to follow and stays behind, he does not learn how to believe.
Open Mic: Share your thoughts
- How has your life changed – been cut off – from your “previous life” (before following Christ)?