Being a Disciple Isn’t About What You Do
It’s not you…really. Being a disciple is not about you and it’s not about what you do. Being a disciple is all about someone else. In our case, that someone is Jesus.
It’s hard to get our heads wrapped around this sometime. Because everything in this world is so focused on what you do. It’s about becoming a better you. It’s about realizing your best life right now.
It’s about doing. It’s about action. Do these three things. Believe these five things.
It’s so easy to apply this same mindset to being a disciple.
It’s Who Not How
As the lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, sings in his song Amazing, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.”[i] Being a disciple of Jesus has no ultimate connotation that you have arrived in any way. You see in the Apostle John’s gospel that those who were called disciples were simply on the path to being made into the image of Jesus. Some only took a few steps, where some followed Jesus to their death. The reality is that being a disciple of Jesus means that you are on the path, following Jesus.
Now like most journeys, there are going to be points of interest along the way (salvation, joining a church, special callings in your life, etc.), but these aren’t the ultimate focus. The ultimate focus of a disciple isn’t themselves…it is Jesus himself. A disciple isn’t marked by their experience, knowledge, actions, or ability. A disciple is marked by whom they are following. For a Christian, that is Jesus himself. Our goal is to be transformed into the image of Christ.
Bring on the Grace
This isn’t by any amazing work of our own. The fact that we are disciples of Jesus is strictly by the grace of God. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus that we are called to be His disciples. You see this over and over in the gospels when Jesus called his disciples: they were not called base on how awesome they are. If anything, it was the exact opposite. Jesus called worst of the worst. He called the dumb of dumberest. There was no test. Jesus simply said “follow me.”[ii]
Our growth and progress as we follow Jesus is also nothing for us to boast in. Being changed into the image of Jesus doesn’t happen because of our own will, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Peter encourages some exiles in 1 Peter 1:1-2 by telling them:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.[iii]
We need grace. We need grace for everything. We are called by the grace of God to follow Jesus and through grace we are changed by the Holy Spirit to become more and more like the Son of God…Jesus. This is what it means to be a disciple.
[i] Aerosmith, Amazing (Geffen, 2001).
[ii] Matthew 4:19, Matthew 8:22, Mark 1:17, Mark 2:14, Luke 1:3, Luke 5:27, John 1:43