The speaker delivered a message on being a disciple of Christ last year and listed out 5 things it involved. Before I summarize what was said at that seminar, permit to share a conversation I recently had with my mom over what being a disciple meant. She wanted to clarify the difference between a disciple and an apostle, as she was taught that Jesus had 12 apostles.
The distinction can be found by delving into the Greek and Latin meaning of the words. “Apostle” is derived from the Greek word “apostolos” which means a messenger or one sent on a mission while “disciple” is derived from the Latin word “discipulus” meaning pupil or learner. So, in essence the 12 disciples were simply pupils or disciples until they were sent out to be apostles by Jesus after His Resurrection in Matthew 28:16-20. This gets confusing, however, when one reads Luke 6:13 which says “…he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he called apostles.” Perhaps this was written, however, since Jesus had chosen His disciples with the clear intention of making them apostles at the end of His ministry and so he named them thus.
- BEING A FOLLOWER
Keeping in mind the distinction, however, creates a better understanding of the speaker’s message last year. He explained that being a disciple meant being a follower and since Jesus is THE WAY, all we need to do is follow. We need not know where we are going; we need only follow Him. He brought our attention to Matthew 16:21-27, especially verse 24 wherein Jesus said “if you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
He explained that being a disciple meant that you would lose your personality by denying yourself and that this would bring suffering if you are truly a follower of Jesus. He warned that discipleship was not an easy task since it entailed bidding farewell to your past and habits. He pointed out that the Jesus’ reply to Peter saying “Get behind me, Satan” was a harsh reply which needed to be said to REDIRECT Peter out of love.
2. NOT SERVING TWO MASTERS
As a disciple, it means that we must turn away from wrongdoing as seen in Ephesians 4:17-32 and Galatians 6 which refers to being crucified with Christ. This serving of two masters is glaring in our societies, as we are tempted to have one foot in and one foot out. Not only are wetoo distracted with things of the world which cause us to slip back into sin, but we also do things to “help God” under the notion that our prayers need only be supplementary as we consider them not full proof.
3. LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND NEIGHBOUR
This condition to being a disciple cannot be over-emphasized, since following God entails having a positive relationship not only with Him, but also with our fellow men. The speaker referred to having this loving relationship in order to be identified as a disciple, as seen in Jesus’ words in John 13:35 that “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” He also mentioned that the relationship would entail a daily study of the Holy Scripture and fellowship with fellow disciples as stressed in Hebrews 10:25 warning against foresaking the gathering of believers.
Although this might appear obvious, the speaker mentioned that to be a disciple, you must deposit your will with God. He stated that once you give Him your will, then your relationship becomes one of worship. He referred to Mary in Luke 10:39 who deliberately and willingly “sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words.”
By surrendering your Will to Jesus,’ your will becomes Jesus’ will which is to satisfy the purpose of God in your life.
5. HAVE HOLY SPIRIT
The last indices of being Jesus’ disciple is to have the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit, we are able to follow Jesus more closely and become His witnesses as seen in the Book of Acts. As His witness, we are then able to become true ambassadors of Christ, able to be sent forth as apostles.
Discipleship is truly a privilege given to us by God. The more we follow in Jesus’ footsteps, the closer we get to really KNOW HIM which is an awesome thing. When we know Him, He comes to dwell in us and equips us further to be His apostles.
May the good Lord teach us how to be true followers of Him not only in good times, but also in tough times when we are called to embrace our cross and follow Him, in Jesus name. Amen.