Disciple or Follower?

mathsJesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 gives a clear directive for Christians to be focused on disciple-making.  This is inclusive of presenting the Gospel of Christ as a compelling necessity for eternal security and a framework for living a transformed life.  But discipleship is more than mere followership.

Although Jesus clearly indicated that disciples would be baptised, they were also to help others observe His teachings.  Obedience requires more of us than mere conversion.  Far from just being eternal ‘fire insurance’, this necessitates yielding control to Christ and this, in turn, has implications regarding submission to leaders and His church. A significant hallmark of the Christian faith is therefore more than just conversion.

It is no accident that the term ‘Mathematics’ and ‘disciple’ have the same word origin.  When I used to teach Mathematics, I found that a little bit each day was best. Reinforcing and developing skills a step at a time produced the best students and those cramming the night before a test seldom did well unless they had already learned the material.  Disciples also learn.  This is an apprenticed ‘learning-by-doing’. Christianity is a practical faith and cannot just be developed in a classroom.  (Faith without works is dead according to James 2:17).

How sad that so many seek to acquire and/or share knowledge and simultaneously withdraw from church life, too busy to serve or to lead. Supervised practice, life coaching, practical mentoring, or whatever the term is used is foundational to the work of any Christian minister and to the service of any Christian.  It therefore requires more of us than simply giving mental assent to Christianity.

We also see in Matthew 28 that Jesus calls us to make disciples, not just to be disciples (a thought reinforced in 2 Timothy 2:2).  Discipleship inevitably involves influence of others and therefore requires of every Christian some form of leadership (since it is also typically the influence of others). The extent and effectiveness will differ, but the cost is great.  It involves a laying down of our lives when we become yielded to Christ, in recognition that He also laid down His life to give us the freedom that we devote to His service.




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