Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Are You a Disciple?

This is the question that we have been studying with our Sunday night HS small group, over the past month or so. But, before one can began to answer that question, we must first ask, what is a disciple?

We came up with a list of attributes that might describe a disciple:

-loving, selfless, others-centered, caring, serving, bold, willing, consistent, focused on Christ.

We recognized that the life of a disciple may be:

-rewarding, costly, an ongoing process, dangerous, uncomfortable, humbling, exciting.

The relationship between a disciple and God could be described as:

-master/servant, trust, dying to self, pursuing God, obedience, rabbi/student, imitation.

But (and this was my favorite part) can a person be a disciple and not have attained these attributes? What is the basic requirement for disciple-dom? After much discussion, this is what we came up with:

"A person who has chosen to pursue Jesus, to submit to His will, and to develop a Christlike character."

That's pretty good. And challenging.

I realized that though I grew up in a Christian home as a "good kid" who believed in God and liked going to church, I don't think I was truly a disciple until about the age of 22 or 23. It took me that long to realize that I held responsibility for my own growth in the faith. I couldn't rely on a pastor to feed me - I had to pursue Jesus myself. I chose to submit to God's will as a standard response - not on a case by case basis (what freedom this choice brings!).

A large reason for this turning point in my life was the fact that I began to disciple others - and I realized that I wasn't living out myself what was expected of the youth being discipled. I could have given up, but I decided to rise to the challenge, and that's when my faith truly became my own, a living, growing, exciting, vibrant faith.

It's kind of sad to me that in our culture, we have these different 'levels'. So many people believe they are Christians simply because they believe in God. The really 'good' people go to church every Sunday, right? But to pursue a relationship with Jesus, a Christlike character, to submit to His authority, that's Jesus Freak territory reserved for those unfortunate souls called into ministry and missions! Yikes!

The thing is, I don't think God ever intended it to be that way. He wants a relationship with us. I don't think He expects us to be perfect. But He does want us to pursue Him... an adventurous pursuit that will lead us to a life we never believed possible!

So I'll ask you again... are you a disciple?


Anonymous said...

The basic requirement for "disciple-dom" was given to us by Jesus. In John 13:35 Jesus said," By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Katherine said...

I totally agree that our love for one another is a powerful witness for Christ. But, I don't think that Jesus is saying here that love is the only requirement of discipledom; He is saying that love is evidence of it.

There are many loving people in the world who don't even know about Christ, much less follow Him. Their love does not make them disciples.

When Jesus says "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34 NIV), I see that a decision must be made. Will I choose God's will over my own? Will I go His way or mine? Am I willing to suffer for His name?

These are challenging questions, no doubt. But Jesus never said that living the Christian life would be easy! What He does promise, though, is that it will be worth it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I agree. I'm even yet coming into my faith at almost 26. It's taken me a long time to wean off the impressive faith of my parents. I'm just starting to get the concept of trust as a standard response. It's alot more challenging than one would think, but at the same time, it's alot more satisfying. Thanks for the reminder!

Laura said...

I find myself asking a question I think I should know the answer to... though poorly articulated! It goes something like "Do I make the conscience decision to become a disciple, or is by God's choice to reveal Himself to me that I become a disciple?" Either way... Thanks Jesus!! :)

Katherine said...

Laura -

I think both your statements are correct! We could never become disciples if God had not revealed Himself to us... though each of us will have to make that choice (whether or not to pursue Him) at some point in our own lives.

Here's a tougher question (I think): is it possible to be a Christian and NOT be a disciple? Chew on that one for a while!

Enjoying the conversation -

Katherine =)