At The Great Commission in Matthew 28, Jesus gave his followers this command,
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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
What is a disciple? A disciple is someone who lives their life by the teachings of Jesus. This may seem like a silly thing to ask Christians, but the question can be much deeper than most of us realize. Just ask Ann Swindell of Relevant Magazine. In her recent article, What Christians Get Wrong About Discipleship, Swindell outlined four mistakes Christians make while trying to follow Christ.
Among these was the idea that discipleship is a solitary practice. Swindell writes,
Discipleship Isn’t “Just Me and Jesus.”
While discipleship is all about Jesus, it’s not a solitary endeavor. Discipleship is relational, and to fully respond to the Great Commission, we need to be disciples who are making disciples of Jesus. This means we need to spend consistent time with other believers. Jesus and His disciples spent a lot of time together (Acts 1:21-22). They ate together, walked together, rode in boats together.
They even fought together (Luke 9:46-48). The 12 disciples were in one another’s lives, constantly and intentionally. While we are all called to become disciples of Jesus, we become disciples with one another, learning how to love God and each other as we go. We need to allow others to disciple us by letting them challenge us and encourage us in our walk with God. This is why church and honest relationships with other believers are so central to the Christian life—we need one another in this journey of becoming wholehearted disciples of Jesus.
Community has always been an important part of being a Christian. The Church is meant to be a place where believers can gather together and support one another in faith. Sadly, many have become closed institutions where Christians hide or suffer in silence. How can we change this? According to Kevin East, we must remember what true community requires.
Because it requires vulnerability.
“Someone has to take the first step. A phone call. An invitation. Someone has to lead, to show others how to get to where they want to go. I'm not always willing to do that. This is the case in my marriage as well. Sometimes I wish we were more intimate, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to try to get us to that sweet place. If we lead, and nobody follows, then what?”
“We were created to be in relationship. At times, we think that being alone is the place to be. That is good for a season, but eventually that well runs dry. We want to be known. We need others, and they need us.”
Jesus did not intend for us to walk alone in our faith. The first disciples relied on one another, even if they didn’t always get along. We must learn to trust, and take each other’s loads the same way Christ took ours.
What about you? What are your thoughts on discipleship?
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor of Crosswalk.com