What comes to mind when you hear the word “disciple” or “follower?”
I will go out on a limb, but I doubt you were not thinking of the words “talmid” or “talmidim.” They translate these old words from Aramaic and Hebrew as a disciple or follower but there is no easy way to identify in today’s culture for someone who voluntarily seeks to identify with his or her master in every area of life. Someone who dedicates their life to become like the master in every way. They study not only to learn what their teacher knows but to become the man their teacher is.
Many trade apprentices spend years with their master to strip away their former identity (along with clothes, hair, and anything else that is personal), but even this analogy falls short.
Now, I am not talking about cults that force this identity change on their subjects. This is not a volitional, conscious process by the follower–it’s coerced.
When Jesus tells us to go make disciples of people throughout the world, he is calling us to first dedicate ourselves to living, eating, sleeping, working, playing, loving, suffering, bleeding, and breathing every moment of our lives with God so that his most profound purpose becomes ours. How can we encourage and show others if we are illiterate with grasping this direction from the Word of God in being a disciple or follower? Far too many Christians settle out for so little and thus, as a whole, it leaves Christianity lacking true disciples and followers.
Evangelism IS NOT limited to converting people to a particular system of beliefs. Jesus’ Gospel is a dynamic call to a way of life (KINGDOM) and not a contract we sign in which we agree to believe a specific creed in return for which God decides not to send us to hell–and after which all that remains is not to breach the contract before we die.
The Gospel that Jesus invites us to is nothing less than the practice of the presence of God in our lives, RELATIONSHIP. This is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven–the awareness of Immanuel, of God-with-us.
Are we contacted Christians? Are we under obligation by some unwritten contact? No! God gave us the new life- FREELY!
What he asks of us is to be HIS follower. He gives us a new heart but our lives are still being transformed.
This discipleship and follower is a process that is only perfected as we follow. God’s perfect love and His unconditional acceptance are free for the taking (what we call salvation) but how we follow him is a stewardship choice we control.
This process of what we call sanctification–making “holy” or setting apart for God is heart choice, not a hard choice. It’s painful at first when the process of “maturing” yourself is taking place. But it only hurts as much as you resist the process.
Why does the Truth seem so powerless today? Could it be that the followers of the Truth have so dramatically “lowered the bar” and have accepted such a watered-down version of this truth someone cannot see it today? If this is true, then the only remedy is to raise the bar back to His original instructions- Follow me.