Being a christian is somebody who believes in Jesus Christ, that He died for our sins and was resurrected on the third day and made it possible for you and me again to live in relationship with our heavenly Father.
The question today is: Are you also a disciple?
A disciple is somebody who has left what they were doing to follow a teacher/leader and become a student of how this person lives their lives, the principles they live their lives by and their end goal is to become just like the one they follow.
Last week in our Discipleship Training School our students (and staff of course) were challenged to consider the difference. Are you a believer only? Or have your given up all things, dropped everything you were doing to follow Jesus, to learn from Him, learn His ways, to walk in His ways, to become more like Him in all that you say and do?
Do you see the difference?
One is believing, the other is believing AND acting. Not only were were challenged to ponder this question, we were also challenged to consider the practical things a disciple does, how a disciples lives, the things that marks a disciple.
It is easy to say you believe in something, but it is a totally different thing to act on what you believe.
I believe that praying is important, but do I actually pray? I believe in the Word of God. I believe that what it says is truth and that is can transform my life, then why do I still worry about tomorrow when that same Bible (the Truth) tells me not to worry about anything and in everything with prayer and thanksgiving make my petition knows to Him. (Phil. 4:6)
Jesus did not say to the disciples: “Come believe in me.” He said: “Come and follow Me.” I think the following, the walking with Jesus, hearing the stories, seeing Him with other people, understanding His heart and compassion stepping out to become learners of the Rabbi, was the beginning of a life changing experience that gave them the ability to have faith to believe.
Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance of things we do not see. I think the disciples had faith when they left all things behind to follow Jesus. Faith to be confident in what they were hoping for (learn more from the Master), assurance of things they were not yet able to see (His Lordship and kingdom). Their faith was challenged, their faith was tested, their hopes were shattered as they couldn’t fully comprehend why Jesus would talk about death and at the same time talk about Him being king.
Being a disciple is not void of the testing of our faith, the shattering of hope at times when we lack understanding. But a true disciple does not give up the first time things get touch. A disciple sticks to the person he/she chose to follow. It was not a weak choice, a moment of excitement to drop everything, to leave all things behind to follow this man called Jesus.
What about you? Are you a believer and a follower? Has your faith been tested? Has the following been difficult at times, has your life as a disciple seen moments of hopes shattered, yet you know whom you have chosen to follow is trustworthy and so you keep going. You know that He is worth all you have, all your time, all your energy, right?
In the midst of being challenged last week and consider our place as a ‘disciple’ the Lord blessed us with amazing times of worship, encouragement through words of life spoken out over our lives and ending the week with not only with a birthday party (it was mine) but also with an amazing celebratory worship time in which we exalted the Name of Jesus over our lives and proclaimed His truth.
I was reminded last week of a simple fact: the Discipleship Training School is exactly what the name says: A course in which we learn to become disciples of Jesus, moving from simply believing to dropping all we do, leaving behind our boats and listen to the invitation to “Follow Me”.
That does not mean that it is an easy time. It is meant to be challenging, meant to challenge you in what you understand, allow you to ask the hard questions, not necessarily to the staff (although that happens too), but ask Holy Spirit to reveal to what is true. That is His role after all. John 16:13 says that the Spirit came to lead us into all the truth and that the truth would set us free.
Being a disciple does not mean you get all the answers at once. Life throws us curveballs, gives us many questions, but I know somebody that wants to give you understanding, that longs to revela His heart to you. His name is Jesus and through Holy Spirit He longs to show you new things.
We have entered week 8 and we are speaking about the topic of “Spiritual Warfare”. It will be another week in which we will be disciples (learners) about the battle that we are in. But as Ephesians tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Well if that is the case we better find out who we are dealing with and whose side we are on so we can do battle the right way.