Around 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth walked up to 12 very different men and said, “follow me.” Can you imagine being one of those men? They were ordinary people just like us. They had lives, jobs, families, hobbies, and friends. As they went about their ordinary day, doing very ordinary things, their lives were changed in very extraordinary ways. None of them would ever be the same. None of them would have suspected their lives to change so drastically and quickly.
I have often thought about these men and wondered if they even understood what was happening. As each one responded to Jesus’ invitation, they could not have understood the impact it would have. Nothing could have prepared them for their encounter with the Creator. The words, wisdom, teachings, and power would soon shape every aspect of their life.
In only a few short years, these same men were standing before the most powerful men in the known world and turning the world upside down (I would contend they were turning it right side up – Acts 17:6). What began as simply following a teacher ended up changing their lives and ours forever.
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? As you know the answer is simple but when you give yourself completely to it, it changes your life completely. It is so much bigger than simply following or being a student of Jesus’ teachings. It should be life changing just like it was for the 12 disciples.
It is literally impossible to follow Jesus as a disciple and not end up being like Him (Luke 6:40). That is the whole point to follow Jesus. We follow Him so closely, imitating His every step until we pick up the work that He was doing.
Yet, somehow many have come to believe that they can be “Christian” and follow Jesus without being like Him. Many want to adopt the name “Christian” and grab hold of the safety and security of being saved but avoid all the sacrifice and hard work. Someone who hasn’t followed Jesus in years is not a Christian because you can’t be Christian without Christ and you can’t be a disciple without following Him.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about following Him, every day and everywhere He leads. It’s about striving to be closer and be more like Him each day. It’s about prioritizing Jesus; prioritizing faith in Jesus and service to His church above our desires, wants, and needs. Most importantly, being a disciple is not possible unless you want it more than you want other things in this life.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, ESV)
Let’s commit to being disciples and to helping others become disciples of Jesus.