The Mark of a True Disciple

By Lesley Cheesman
This article first appeared in the Summer 2011 edition of MOVE Magazine.

Jesus’ last words on earth were carefully chosen. They needed to be. His action plan for changing the whole world needed to be clearly understood by his disciples. Reaching their generation and every subsequent generation depended on it.    

Jesus’ disciples had spent the previous three years with Jesus, living with him, following him, learning from him, devoting themselves to him. And now, as he was leaving, he was telling them how they should continue to live: 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Tough questions

In the face of such clear instructions, it’s difficult to delegate the work of disciple-making to the faithful few. It’s the work of every believer and is Jesus’ plan A for reaching the whole world. In fact, there is no plan B.  

Jesus’ call to action may make you uncomfortable. As you read this you may even be shifting around in your seat asking yourself the big question:

“If this is what Jesus requires, am I really a disciple of Jesus?” 

If so, you are certainly not alone. But why is such a clear and fundamental teaching of Jesus such a struggle for many of those who claim to want to follow him?

Total surrender

We live in a society that values independence, self-reliance and personal comfort. But the call to discipleship in response to the incredible love and sovereignty of God is one of surrender. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) We long for that full life in Jesus but we can often feel like our lives as Christians are missing the mark. Why?

Read: Luke 14:25-34 

  • What do these verses tell you about being a disciple? 
  • Why is total surrender a prerequisite for a full life in Jesus?  
  • Are you living a life of total surrender to Jesus?

Deep love 

Jesus calls us to follow him wholeheartedly and to become like him as we live in obedience to his teaching. But in order to follow, obey and depend on Jesus, we need to love him unreservedly. Our obedience can only flow out of this love, or it won’t last. 

Read: John 15 

  • Do you love Jesus today?  
  • Is there anything that is getting in the way of loving him unreservedly?  
  • Are you praying regularly for increasing growth in your love for Jesus? (Philippians 1:9-11) 

A disciple first

The life of a disciple of Jesus is one of understanding, obedience and love. It would have been difficult for Jesus’ disciples to understand how to make disciples if they weren’t already disciples themselves. Jesus had taught them that a disciple is one who becomes LIKE his teacher, not just someone who knows ABOUT his teacher. Disciples of Jesus are people who are not just well informed: they are people who are being transformed.   

Read: Matthew 28 

  • What can you do right now to grow in understanding, obedience and love for Jesus? Who can get alongside you?  
  • How will you pass on what you are learning to others? 
  • Where is Jesus challenging you to go and make disciples?  

 

Lesley Cheesman is the National Director of Agapé in the UK. She lives in Birmingham with her husband Paul and their children, Charis and Joel. Her life has been transformed by this teaching on discipleship.