What is a Disciple?

Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked up to a handful of men and said, “Follow me.”
Not the kind of “follow” that some may be thinking of today. This wasn’t a Facebook follow, Instagram follow, or YouTube subscription, but rather an invitation to lay their life down so that Jesus would be magnified and His church would be established. Today, many are followers of something but not in the kind of way Jesus commissioned these disciples. Many folks follow social media pages, politicians, sports teams, or celebrities, and passionately defend them and support them, yet never meet them or interact with them. They know all of their stats or awards, what movies they’ve played, how many championships they’ve won, or what policies they're looking to implement if elected, but never actually know who they truly are. See, there are many followers today who have followed, a figure that has led to disappointment and unhealthy idolization.
Moreover, even in the church today we have people who claim to be followers of Jesus’ but just like a follower on TikTok, they’ve heard about Him, but do not actually know Him. So what is a true disciple or follower of Jesus? To make it more simple, I’m going to use three words that trademark a disciple that starts with the letter C. Each word represents a true trait of a Biblical disciple, and it is my hope this article stirs your faith to boldly embrace the Calling, Commission, and Cost of being a follower of Jesus Christ. All for His glory, and the souls of men.

Imagine hearing the words “follow me” flow from the lips of a carpenter from Nazareth and immediately dropping your career and your family to follow Him. No job description, no benefits, and no fancy retirement package. Would you still follow? The disciples who were called could not have fully understood what they were getting into when they responded to Jesus’s call. All of the expectations, uncertainty, curiosity, or excitement they felt, could not have prepared them for what lay ahead. Everything about Jesus—His teaching, compassion, and wisdom; His life, death, and resurrection; His power, authority, and calling—would shape every aspect of the rest of their lives.
Today, Jesus is calling you, my brother, and my sister to follow Him. Do you trust Him? Being a disciple involves being called out, and being separated from your own plans and your own dreams. Even being separated from what you believe is right and wrong. To be called is to be set apart for God’s purpose and plan alone. To be called out is to be under Jesus’ authority what He says, you do. To be called is to be called to a life of death to self, and life unto Jesus.
This shouldn’t discourage you or make you think your life is “over” and you’ll never accomplish anything you aspire to,. this calling is to be seen as dynamic and exciting because a life prioritized and surrendered unto Jesus brings forth far more fruit than a life surrendered to self. You aren’t promised nice cars, nice houses, nice retirement funds, or even perfect health, but what you are promised is strength amid weakness, supernatural grace during trials, peace in the middle of the storm, love in grave loneliness, and more. However, what is above all of those promises, is the greatest of all, an intimate life with Jesus. Worshiping, loving, and enjoying Him forever and ever. Amen.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? As you will discover, the answer is fairly simple, but it changes your life completely.
When Jesus called His first disciples, they had no idea where Jesus would take them or the impact it would have on their lives, but they knew what it meant to follow. They took Jesus’s call literally and began going everywhere He went and doing everything He did. Today friend, being a disciple is being commissioned to do what Jesus did and ultimately, answering His command given in Matthew 28:19-20. In these verses, Jesus gives what is known as the Great Commission. It is a command, to go and tell the world all about who Jesus is, and what Jesus taught, and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This is known now as evangelism and it is essential to being a disciple of Christ. Unfortunately, for too long it has been treated as the “Great Suggestion” but in reality is the sole purpose of our Christian lives today; To glorify God in all we do, and to preach what is known as the “good news” to all of creation. What is that? Well, it may be too long to discuss what all the good news entails, but part of its beauty is its simplicity. That mankind is separated from God our creator because we disobeyed Him. The Bible calls that sin, and all of us have sinned at some point, in fact, we were born into it! Sin also leads us to punishment and life away from God forever, but the good news is that because of God’s great love, Jesus paid the price our disobedience and sin “cost” by dying on the cross instead of us dying, and three days later, rising from the grave! Now, through repentance of that sin, or a turning away from that sin we commit against God and turning our faith to Jesus, we can be made right with God and completely forgiven.
This is the best news ever, and if you’ve been wondering about what your purpose or “commission” is in life, God, the general, has given you the “missions orders” and He’s asked you, a follower of Jesus Christ, to share the good news with others. Start here in the revealed will of God for your life in Scripture, and let the Holy Spirit guide you into any specific will God has for your life next!

One problem that many face in the church is saying that they believe in Jesus but confessing that Jesus is Lord and Master is another story. Some may not see the difference in this, however, this is a major contradiction. If Jesus is Lord, then He sets the rule book. If Jesus Christ is Lord, then your life belongs to Him. He has a plan, and agenda, and calling for you. You don’t get to tell Him what you’ll be doing today or for the rest of your life. Discipleship truly has a cost, and it costs you your natural desire to live for your own gain and instead live for Jesus. Some see this call as the rich young ruler, who was discouraged and worried more about his riches rather than following Jesus, but others see this call as exhilarating and the beginning of living a transformed life. How do you see the call?
Luke 24:25-33 summarizes this sobering thought well. I encourage you to read it all but essentially Jesus says “Are the cares of this world more important than the cares of God?” If so, being a disciple of Christ, may not be for you. Jesus says you must count and consider the cost of following Jesus. Whoever is unwilling to take up his own cross in obedience, can’t be a disciple, but he who surrenders his own life shall find true eternal life in Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a notorious German Theologian who resisted the Nazi regime, emphasizes the cost of discipleship powerfully when distinguishing “cheap grace vs costly grace.” He says, in his book, Discipleship,

“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ” (4).

Later, Bonhoeffer differentiates between the two by defining costly grace. He states,

“When received, costly grace dwells within humans and cultivates a true conversion. It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. The price of the sacrificial lamb is costly and, in that dying, creates a life called in accordance with Jesus. In this model, Jesus’ followers leave behind their previous lives, and lives according to this world, and move into conforming their lives to the teachings of Jesus. This grace not only provides humanity salvation and justification for their sins but also genuine freedom” (6).

Wow, what a challenge, and sobering thought. Today my friend Jesus is calling out to you, saying “Follow Me!” It may not be easy, but it is so worth it. Jesus has promised that it wouldn’t be easy, but He has sent the Holy Spirit to be your helper! Rely on Him today, and follow Jesus as your Lord!  

Ben Bausback

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