One Big Question
There might not be a more important question to be answered in the life of a Christian than “what does a disciple of Jesus look like?” How you answer that question will have major implications on every area of your life. Your answer will impact what kind of friend you are, how you parent your children, how you love your spouse, how you look at dating, how you treat your job, how you handle conflict, and every other part of your life. A disciple is a follower, one who learns from a teacher. The point though is not to learn for the sake of knowledge. The point is to grow so that they become like the teacher.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. – Luke 6:40
Not only does this question effect you, it also effects how others understand who Jesus is. Every day a Christian has the opportunity to paint a picture of who Jesus is to the world. Christians are either painting an accurate picture of who Jesus is by their lives or they are painting a picture that looks nothing like our Good King.
So, what does a disciple of Jesus look like? Below are five marks of a disciple. This by no means is an exhaustive list, but most other marks could fit into one of these. Read through them and look at your life. Are you becoming like Jesus? Are you painting an accurate picture to the world around you?
A follower of Jesus believes that Scripture is the very word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Because of this, the Bible is the final authority in all areas of life. The Bible gives the disciple all that they need for life and godliness. Being a Christian means that one has laid down their life for Jesus. We show we are his disciples by humbly living according to Scripture.
When you are making a decision where do you turn to first? Is it Scripture? Do you make decisions based off what Scripture says? Do you rely on your own thoughts, attitudes and experiences when understanding the world around you? What about your understanding on God? A disciple of Jesus doesn’t say what our God would do based on our own opinions. That would make us our own personal God. A disciple of Jesus searches the Scriptures and sees the world through a biblical lens. What lens are you looking through?
A disciple of Jesus is one who pursues peace in every relationship that they have (Romans 12:18). God has reconciled sinful people to himself. If he can do that, he can restore any relationship on this earth. A disciple of Jesus sees people the way that God sees them. The key to this is remembering the good thing that our Great King has done for us on the cross (1 Peter 3:18). When we enter into a right relationship with God, we are able to pursue healthy relationships with the world around us.
God is a God of community. For eternity he has been in perfect community with himself in the Trinity. We are created in his image (Genesis 1:27) therefore we have a longing for that same community. God is a good and gracious God so he has filled this earth with others that we can enter into relationships with. The deeper purpose of those relationships is not to fulfill some sense of importance in our lives. The deeper purpose of those relationships is to glorify God. This is what a healthy relationship is, one that glorifies God.
Are you using the relationships you are in for self or are you allowing God to use them? A married couple can show the mystery of the Gospel through their marriage (Ephesians 5:32). If you are married to someone who doesn’t believe, you can glorify God in your marriage by showing them the love of Jesus (1 Corinthians 7:16). Christian friendships are there to encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Other friendships are there to share the Gospel (Acts 1:8). Christians should even have healthy relationships with those who oppose them (Romans 12:20-21). Are you in relationships that are bringing glory to God?
Christians were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). The most valuable commodity in the history of the world is what purchased you, the blood of Christ. He gave it freely. God has given us life through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son. He has lavishly given us his love (1 John 3:1). He generously gives wisdom (James 1:5). God is rich in kindness, forbearance, and patience (Romans 2:4). His grace overflows in our lives (1 Timothy 1:14). God is generous. He is a giving God.
A disciple of Jesus is one who is generous as well. A disciple realizes that all that they have comes from God (1 Chronicles 29:14). Because all things come from God everything ultimately is God’s. A disciple is one who gives of his time, talents, and treasure with joy (2 Corinthians 9:7). A disciple is able to give joyfully because they are storing up for themselves treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy (Matthew 5:20). Jesus gave everything of himself for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). Are you doing that with what God has given you?
Invested In The Ministry Of The Church
The church is more than an institution. The church is the vehicle that Jesus gave his disciples to take the message of the Gospel to the nations. If the church wasn’t an important part of a disciple’s life, Jesus would not have set it up. A disciple of Jesus loves the Church (Big C) and is actively involved and in love with a local church. Every believer receives gifts to fulfill their role in the context of a local church (1 Corinthians 12:7). When every member of the body is working together, the church is the most effective in the mission that Jesus has given.
A local church is both a place to receive and to give. At a church, a disciple receives the message of the Gospel and are discipled. They also give through serving the rest of the body and the world around them. When someone is focused on receiving only they are not putting into practice what they have learned and will not grow in their faith. When someone is only focused on serving and not sitting under the truth of the Bible they will lose track of the reason behind what they are doing and will begin to serve in their own power. A disciple is involved in a local church so they can fill up with the truth of Scripture. Once they are filled they are able to pour out that truth in service and love to the people around them.
Engaged In Evangelism
A disciple of Jesus is engaged in evangelism. Christians know the greatest story every told. The beautiful thing about this story is that it is true and it is for all people (1 John 2:2). Jesus gave the Great Commission as marching orders for his disciples to share the Gospel everywhere they went (Matthew 28:18-20). We have an incredible opportunity to share the story of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration every single day. Can you share that story? Are you able to give someone a reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)?
One of the best ways to do that is to share the story of what Jesus did with your life. If you are a Christian, you are a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus has changed you. He has given you life, hope, joy, peace, and purpose. Are you sharing that story and his glory where you go and are you proclaiming the marvelous works he has done in your life (Psalm 96:3)?
Evangelism can happen at work or in Panama. A disciple has a heart for their neighbor and the person on the other side of the world. We need to think globally and share locally.
Christians are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). These marks are not what brings salvation to a disciple. These marks show that a disciples has been changed by the grace that does. Are you becoming more like Jesus? Are you painting an accurate picture of Jesus with your life?