Discipleship is a big deal! Jesus commanded us to make more than mere “converts” – statistics we can report of people who responded to an “altar call” or prayed “a sinner’s prayer.” He commanded us to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s in what we refer to as “the Great Commission.” Pretty important, wouldn’t you say?
So what is discipleship? Here’s the definition I use…
The intentional development of those who respond in faith to the Gospel so that they become devoted, obedient followers of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives through…
Accountability and loving relationships within the Church (the community of “Christ-followers”)
Study and personal application of the Bible
Participation in prayer, worship, ministry, stewardship, and evangelism
So during my time of “coffee with the Lord” this morning I read this passage written by Apostle Paul to the churches in ancient Asia [Note: I’ve added a few explanatory note or two for clarification in brackets]…
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles [the unconverted – those in broader pagan culture] do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned [“manthano” – a Greek verb drawn from, and related to the noun translated “disciple” in Scripture… i.e. “You were not “discipled” to live that way!”] when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness!” (Ephesians 4:17–24 NIV)
So it seems to me, this is our challenge… Believers today must be discipled in such a way that they exhibit distinctive lives – different from the broader pagan culture! It is intolerable, biblically, for Christ followers to live like a lost world – with no difference between those who claim to be redeemed and the broader culture. Minus legalism, those who have begun to follow Christ, must be discipled to live a new life – different from the world around them in practical matters (see verses 25-32 of the same passage).
As a spiritual leader I cannot be satisfied after I have taught the truth or proclaimed God’s word with just compliments (like “Wow! What a blessing!” or “How uplifting or inspiring!”) I must be satisfied with nothing less than changed lives, and do everything in my power to help facilitate that!