Gentlemen, this is a football …
Legendary coach, Vince Lombardi would gather his players for training camp. These guys were some of the best athletes in the world; they had played football all of their lives. And the coach would stand up in front of them, hold up a football, and say, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” It’s not that he had to tell them what this object was. He wasn’t making fun of them; he was simply making the point that they were going to go back to the basics!
This is a disciple!
Today, we’re going back to the basics:
- What is a disciple?
- What does a disciple do?
- What is discipleship?
Revolutionary Discipleship …
I could have simply called this sermon series, “Discipleship 101,” but Christian discipleship is either revolutionary, or it is nothing! Christian discipleship is revolutionary because Jesus was revolutionary.
Mark 8.34–38 [NLT]: That sounds pretty revolutionary to me!
Follow me …
I believe this is one of the greatest phrases in all of the Scriptures: “Follow me.” That’s what Jesus says as he invites us to join him on an adventure of a lifetime, a relationship with God.
- You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. (John 15.16, CEV)
- If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10.37–39, NLT)
- Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8.12, NLT)
- My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10.27, NLT)
- Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them. (John 12.25–26, NLT)
Discipleship Questions …
For last month’s Charge Conference, the DS asked you to prepare responses to six discipleship-related questions. I want to talk about the first two of those questions:
- “What is your definition of a disciple?”
- “What does a disciple do?”
What is a disciple?
You wrote: “A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ, who develops a faith relationship with God through prayer and Bible study.”
A disciple is …
- One who responds to Christ’s call, “Follow me.”
Rabbi’s Questions …
In Jesus’ day, rabbis chose disciples based on two things: “Does this kid know what I know (Torah)?” and, “Can this kid do what I do?” It is not enough to be a “believer.” We must be “followers”!
If you are a Christian, then you are a disciple. If you are a believer, then you are a disciple. We don’t get to choose our commitment level! We are either fully committed, or we are not faithful, obedient disciples!
What does a disciple do?
You wrote: “A disciple puts his/her faith into action by obeying God’s Word, modeling his/her life after Christ, and sharing his/her faith story with others.”
Are you going to be a spectator or a participant?
The reason I don’t care for the term “believer,” is that “believers” sometimes stop at being “spectators.” But to be a “disciple” or a “follower” means something more. You stop being just a spectator, and you start being a participant in what God is doing! And there is nothing greater than that!
A disciple …
Ultimately, a disciple does what he/she sees Jesus doing …
This implies intimacy! For us to “see” what Jesus is doing in the world, we must be close to him, and we must pay attention to what he is doing. We must be intimate with Christ!
A pre-commitment to obey …
And the kind of disciples Jesus looks for is the kind that are ready to follow and obey. IOW, they possess a pre-commitment to obey.
The Great Commandment & the Great Commission …
Our lives are a continuation of the ministry of Christ. That’s why we’re called the “body of Christ.” We are Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. Jesus sends us into the world with the same mission he had. (Matthew 22.37–40 and Matthew 28.18–20)
What is discipleship?
Discipleship is the process of becoming like Christ. It is an ongoing process.
“If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know.” (Proverbs 19.27, CEV)
Discipleship is at the heart of who we are as Christ-followers, and it is at the heart of who we are as a church. We are disciples of Jesus Christ, growing in our personal relationship with God. We are also disciples of Jesus Christ inviting and welcoming others to join us on the Christian journey, the way of Christ!
“Follow me …”
Again, I can’t think of a greater phrase in all of Scripture than Jesus Christ, the Savior inviting us into a relationship with God, and to a life of following him! Today, I want to invite you to join me on this amazing adventure we call discipleship — revolutionary discipleship!
At the close of life, the question will not be, “How much have you gotten?” but “How much have you given?” Not “How much have you won?” but “How much have you done?” Not “How much have you saved?” but “How much have you sacrificed?” It will be “How much have you loved and served,” not “How much were you honored?” (Nathan C. Schaeffer)