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?