John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Yesterday we introduced a new (but probably familiar) term – ‘disciple’. If you’ve been around church at all, it’s likely you’ve heard some form of that word, like discipleship or discipling. Yet many Christians really don’t understand the depth of meaning that word brings with it. We’ve heard of Jesus’ 12 disciples, for example. However, Jesus actually had many more than 12 – He just had 12 that were called to be apostles.
On the other hand, many people today shy away from the word. They say it’s old-fashioned, or that it sounds too demanding. I’ll concede that it is demanding – Luke 14:33 says “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Emphasis added)
Some people prefer to use other terms to describe themselves. ‘Christ-follower’ has been popular in recent years. One group has even published a series of video illustrations, take-off’s on the ‘I’m a Mac/I’m a PC’ commercials, apparently to show how ‘uncool’ it is to identify yourself as a Christian, and how much better it is to simply be a ‘Christ-follower’. You can find an example here: Christian/Christ Follower. Apparently, you don’t need to study Christ’s teachings, or read a Bible, or pray to be “like Christ in how I live my life”. Someday someone will have to tell me how you can be like Him if you don’t know him.
What did it mean to be the disciple of a rabbi in Jesus’ time? A disciple (learner) made it his life’s work to become as much like His rabbi (teacher) as humanly possible. He did everything his rabbi did, exactly the way he did it. He studied constantly so he could learn every teaching, every interpretation His rabbi offered. These were people who devoted their lives to becoming exactly like their teacher. Many gave up their jobs and left their families and homes behind to become disciples. The difference between then & now?
They didn’t look at it as a sacrifice! To be called as a disciple was considered the best thing one could achieve in life. It meant that you were good enough, worthy enough, skilled and smart enough to be just like the rabbi who called you. Sure you had to give up some things, change some things. But it was absolutely worth it!
We look at the same call today – that of Jesus to be His disciples – and start our own cost/benefit analysis. We decide what things we’re willing to give up, what limits we will set on our devotion, yet we want all the benefits. We want comfort when we’re sad, money when we’re broke, healing when we’re sick, and heaven when we die. We are being offered the greatest gift imaginable, for this world and the next, and we still want to negotiate a better deal. There are a number of passages that talk about the cost of discipleship. There are none that tell us that it’s OK to only go halfway.
Now, I know that this is a major life change. That’s why we call it a transformation, or regeneration, or being born again. It really is a whole new life. But in that light, doesn’t it make sense that you can’t live both the old life (for yourself) and the new one (for Christ) at the same time? I know change can be scary, especially a change into something unknown. But I promise you – make this change, commit your life to Jesus – become His disciple – and your new life will be better than you ever imagined. Demanding? Yes. Worth the cost? Absolutely!
Pray today that God would give you a spirit of courage – whatever you need to make that leap and become His disciple.