Recently, I was asked to define discipleship today. In other words, what does it look like today to be a disciple of Jesus?
And, in answering that question, I’m forced to answer the overarching yet underlying question: of all the terms to use, why use the word “disciple”?
I say overarching because it connects all of the principles of this ministry. I say underlying because it is the foundation of this ministry. There is no escaping the question, “Why disciple?”
I’ll give you two answers to this very simple question:
First of all, I chose disciple because disciple is the word Jesus used. It is the word most commonly used to describe those who were closely associated with Jesus and His teachings. Sure, we have the twelve who went on to be known as apostles and great leaders of the church, but the rest were better known as disciples.
What does the word itself even mean? According to Merriam-Webster, a disciple is someone who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrine of a teacher. That is, obviously, the noun version of the definition.
So, a disciple of Jesus is some who accepts His doctrine and teaching and assists in spreading it.
When Jesus gave His final words in the form of the Great Commission, He commanded that the people who were there (note that it wasn’t just the eleven who were present) that they were to “make disciples”. So, when we ask the question, “Why disciple?”, the answer is pretty clear. Jesus commands it.
But how do we define discipleship today? I feel like that’s the wrong question.
Here’s why: discipleship, especially when it comes to being a disciple of Jesus, hasn’t changed. We are all called to the feet of the Master, to learn from Him and to carry out His commands and teach others to do the same.
The question, instead, should be, what does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus today?
I really wish there was a simple answer to that. Even as I pray and write and seek God’s Word for the answer, there is none. At least, no clear cut, straight answer to that question.
I’m someone who loves answers. I love having a clear cut response to a question and be able to put it in terms that are easily applicable. But in this case, I can’t, and here’s why:
It’s a misguided question with eternal consequences and I am unable to answer it because the question should never be asked.
I encourage one question to be asked in regards to discipleship: what do I need to do in order to obey the teachings of Christ?
Honestly, that’s the only answer to that question…another question.
If we are to be His disciples, we must know His word, we must know what He says, and then live it out.
Easy? Not in the slightest. But it’s the only way.