When you hear the word disciple, what comes to your mind? How would you define that term? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? Before reading any more of this post, take a few moments to write down your current definition, your thoughts on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus (maybe even leave them as a comment to this post).
Seriously, take a few moments and consider the above questions. I know you just want to read on but stop for a brief moment and ask yourself how you would answer those questions.
The reality is, as followers of the Way, we are called to be a disciple of Jesus. Okay, he calls us to go and make disciples, but how can we make disciples if we aren’t a disciple? Some have the understanding that being a disciple is about having knowledge about the Text. Some would say that being a disciple is about faithfully going to church and being involved in a faith community. Some would say that being a disciple means living by a certain set of guidelines and perfecting them. And there are many more thoughts about what a disciple is. What are your thoughts?
Allow me to start by saying that discipleship isn’t about perfection. An individual can be a disciple and yet be very raw and incompetent at it. A disciple is an apprentice, someone learning to become like his or her teacher. Just as an apprentice of a musician will make mistakes as he or she is learning to create beautiful music, so will an apprentice of Jesus as they journey in life discovering the best kind of life.
In the words of Dallas Willard, a disciple “is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is” (Divine Conspiracy, 282). What did Jesus do? He lived out the Kingdom principles in such away that it benefited others, brought goodness to their life, and made it possible for them to be a part of the Kingdom as well.
Being an apprentice, a disciple, of Jesus means we are learning to do everything we do in the manner that Jesus did all that he did. To be the apprentice Jesus desires us to be, it is crucial that the focus of my life is my apprenticeship to Jesus. It’s about learning from the master Jesus “how to lead my life, my whole life, my real life.” Let me be clear, discipleship isn’t about learning how to do certain religious things, but is about how I do everything. How do I parent like Jesus would parent? How do I be a friend like Jesus would be a friend? How do I play like Jesus would play? How do I do my job (regardless of what the job is) like Jesus would do it?
It’s not trying to re-live the life of Jesus (that’s already been done); it’s about living your life in a manner that Jesus would live it if it were his to live.
What thoughts come to your mind? What questions arise? Does it change your perspective? Do you feel this is freeing or binding?