The word ‘disciple’ is used approximately 270 times in the New Testament. The word ‘Christian’ appears 3 times. The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples and for disciples of Jesus Christ. While being a ‘Christian’ is a more than adequate way to describe Christ’s followers, my point is that the Christian life is characterized by discipleship.
What kind of follower of Jesus do you desire to be? Disciples are followers of a teacher, and our teacher is Jesus Christ. Following Jesus is an active endeavor. It is marked by the reading of Scripture, prayer, worship among other things.
For many of us the challenge isn’t whether we like or even believe Jesus is the Son of God. James 2.19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that.” The question is whether we will follow Jesus. Followers of Jesus Christ are his disciples, and following Jesus always has a cost. It’s cost things like time, energy and love. Dallas Willard speaks to the importance of discipleship by explaining what we miss if we do not participate in it:
“Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring”
Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The only way to share in this fullness of life is by continuing our relationship with Christ as his disciple, continually learning, following and seeking to reflect him wherever we are. Discipleship isn’t for spiritual heavyweights or great men and women of the past. It is not a separate group of super-Christians intent on going beyond perceived norms. Christian discipleship is lived by ordinary people like you in me, living in the same imperfect world of our forbearers of the faith, breathing the same air and facing the same task of following the God who lovingly gave himself for his neighbor and calls us to do likewise.