The concept of discipleship has a long history with the Body of Christ, the Church. It is a term that describes THE ACT OF FOLLOWING ALL THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST AS UPHELD AND PRACTICED BY HIS FOLLOWERS. In The New Life Miracle Church, ADVANCING THE PEOPLE OF GOD THROUGH GODLY INSTRUCTIONS is our aim. None is ever numbered among the true disciples except he first learns followership in the sacred teachings of the Master. In Matthew 28:20a, we read, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. It therefore means that Christ-centered teachings are veritable tools for Christian discipleship. Charles H. Spurgeon puts it this way: “We are not to invent a gospel; we are not to change, and shift, and cut, and shape it to meet the advances of the age.”
However, our methods of discipleship may change to suit the times but the message remains as constant as ever. Only pure wine intoxicates the brain; diluted wine is of no effect!
As a church we undertake the noble task of discipling our members. Christ’s command is plain. He says, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20a). We are patient enough to teach over and over again those things the Master has commanded until the feeblest member puts on the fullness of the image of Christ.
Every worthwhile adventure in life comes with a cost. Discipleship is no exemption. Unfortunately, not all persons are ready to pay the price. These are:
- The Presumptuous Volunteers
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”(Luke 9:57-58).
They have zeal but not according to knowledge. Their fire, like that of the dry leaves, cannot hold out long. They never fully know what it means to follow Christ. They indicate intention to follow Him without thoughtfulness. When they hear the deep things of the Kingdom of God, they withdraw. Like the man in Jesus’ narrative, they do not last on the stage.
- The Unwilling Conscripts
“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:59-60).
This set of people never show any intention to follow Jesus but are conscripted to do so against their will. Those who are not willing to follow the Master can never do His will. They will always excuse themselves from His noble tasks and whereas the Master’s tasks require urgency. “When Christ says to a man, “Follow me’, he must not let even the tenderest relationship detain him, or the most proper duties stand in the way of the highest duty” (Spurgeon).
- The Unserious Volunteers
“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:61-62).
They are those who say they want to follow Christ but cannot let go of the attachments in their lives. Like Lot’s wife, their hearts are with the things they left behind. They are not fit for the Master. Jesus frankly says to them, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:62).
- The Committed Followers
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-22); “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him” (Luke 5:27-28|).
This group of people constitutes an exceptional category. They do not only desire or accept to follow Him, they are willing to pay the price.
What then is the cost of true discipleship?“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
- Self-Denial – “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself …”
Our love for God must be greater than the love we have for others and ourselves.
- Cross Bearing (on a daily basis) – “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him … take up his cross daily …” The cross is an emblem of suffering but a necessary route to the hall of crowns. There is no alternative. It is the way the Saviour has chosen. If there is no cross to bear, there will be no crown to wear.
- Following Christ all the Way – “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him … follow me”Discipleship is a continuous process. It is not enough to begin following Christ; every true disciple is expected to continuously follow Him till he makes the very last mile of life’s journey.
In the school of discipleship, there is no convocation but continuation (John 8:31). Only those who committedly follow Christ by living out all his teachings are truly his disciples.