I have recently been thinking a lot about discipleship. I’ve been skimming several books on the topic, searching the gospels for insight into what it means to be a disciple, and talking to many people about the whole idea of discipleship. I’ve been trying to get my head around the idea of what does it mean that I am a disciple of Jesus and then what is the whole process of discipleship about?
Let’s start first with some of my thoughts on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
In Jesus’ invitation to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4, Jesus says, “Follow Me...”. He invites these two salty fishermen into the adventure of following Him, but says something very interesting right after His invitation to “Follow Me”. He says, “...and I will make you fishers of men.” In this invitation to follow Him there is something that their being with Jesus will guarantee- He promises to make them “fishers of men”. The Greek verb “make” [poieō] implies the idea of being made ready, prepared or being equipped for something. The task Jesus promises to make Andrew and Peter prepared for is to “fish for Men;” to become lovers of people, to be salt and light to others.
Following Jesus and being His disciple means that I will have a “fishing pond,” i.e., a group of people that I will talk to about Jesus, that I will be a fragrance of Christ to, and that I will desperately pray come to know my Savior. When Jesus invited Andrew and Peter to follow Him, they immediately left their nets and up they went. They left their profession, their reputation and all that was familiar to follow Him. Being Jesus’ disciple means that I too need to be ready to leave things behind in my whole-hearted pursuit of Christ. He is enough and He is worth any cost I may need to pay in order to follow Him. Walter Henrichsen in his book Disciples are Made not Born, sums up what being Jesus’ disciple involves:
“Discipleship is our chance to give our lives to significance rather than mediocrity.
Jesus also warns us to weigh the cost and weigh it well, for discipleship will cost us
something. It will cost us our lives. The cost: it starts with a willingness to renounce all
other loyalties in preference to Jesus Christ.”
There are some things that really challenge me about this quote. I want to live a life of significance. I want the one life I have to be used by Jesus, for His glory but am I willing to renounce other loyalties that conflict with me following Jesus? How about you? What challenges you about following Jesus whole-heartedly? What has it cost for you to follow Christ?
While I understand what it means for me to individually follow Christ as His disciple, what about the process of joining with other believers in pursuing Christ together? What does it look like to be discipled by another person?
The process of being discipled by another person has radically changed my life. I trusted Christ as my Savior during my freshman year at Cal by myself in my dorm room– yet I told no one and I had no idea how to follow Christ or how to grow. For a solid year or so nothing really changed. Heading back to college for my junior year I told God that if my sophomore year was what the Christian life was supposed to be like, I was finished with Christianity–BUT I asked Him if there was more to it, to please show me. The way that He answered this prayer was by sending a person, Meg Given to disciple me. She called and asked me to be in her Bible study which also included meeting weekly with her for “discipleship.”
One of the first things she taught me (sitting near Barrows Hall) was who the Holy Spirit is and what role He plays in the life of a follower of Christ. This was RADICAL and life altering for me. Meg loved to pray, so we would pray often. She also understood the whole idea about having a “fishing pond” and joined me in “fishing” with my swimming teammates. We designed a short athletic spiritual interest questionnaire and every other week she asked me to invite one of my teammates to join us during discipleship. This is where the rubber met the road for me. I knew I needed to invite someone to come to the MLK to meet with Meg and me and I was scared to death to invite them and was nervous about what they would think of me. But I was also falling in love with Jesus and wanted them to know Him too. During the course of that year we talked to about 15 of my teammates about Jesus and several decided to follow Him. It was amazing and so much fun to see God work. I was hooked!
During my junior year, Meg walked with me in my learning to follow Christ, modeled for me what it looks like to follow Him, taught me from the Word so that I grew to love Jesus more ,and we “fished for men” together. She challenged me in so many ways without even knowing it! Being discipled gave me the tools to know how to follow Christ as His disciple and how to “fish for men”. My heart has been captivated by Christ and for the process of discipleship ever since that amazing year.
I love what Chris Adsit says in his book, Personal Disciplemaking:
“A disciple is a person in process who is eager to learn and apply the truths that Jesus
Christ teaches him, which will result in ever deepening commitments to a Christ like
Who do you have in your life that points you to walk fiercely with Christ?
Who is helping you to wholeheartedly pursue a life of significance as Jesus’ disciple?