It’s been over a year now in which I have been calling myself a Christian. It didn’t happen overnight. I had to go very far off of track to realise the direction I was going wasn’t good. Through challenges and the people that God put into my life – I found peace. I found God. Discipleship is an important topic for me as I felt discipled by many people. At present I want to understand what it means to be a disciple and how I can help others like those who have helped me.
Recently in a small group I was attending it said “to understand God’s word we must believe in it first”. I thought this was very encouraging. Initially as a Christian I felt like I was only able to receive God’s word and not share it as I was unqualified as I had not yet read the full bible. In order to learn about this topic I read the following article and Luke 9 to get some clarity. The below is a summary of the points Tim Keller made.
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
In Luke chapter 9 Peter with the help of the Holy Spirit realizes that Jesus is more than another prophet and teacher. He realises that Jesus is “the Messiah” – the one who brings the ruling power of God back into the world to heal and repair all the brokenness—whether it’s spiritual, psychological, social, or physical. From the time Jesus’ identity is revealed, he begins to say, “Follow me.”
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
Tim Keller says that being a disciple of Jesus Christ means 3 things.
1. Setting a new priority
2. Finding a new identity and
3. Living a new mercy
1. Setting a New Priority
Jesus says that I must be your first priority. Being a disciple means putting Jesus first. Is this easy to do? I would say no but it depends on one’s attitude and what is at the centre of your life. In the last 6 verses of Luke 9, Jesus meets three eager men, all willing to follow him.
However, the men have conditions first before they go and follow Jesus. One says he wants to go back and say goodbye to his family while the other wants to go back and bury his father. There’s nothing wrong with what they said but their priorities were wrong.
In every day I feel we are in the same situation. Jesus asks us to follow, and we want to follow, but we sometimes have other agendas first. For me I can think of 100 examples. Often my “To Do List” comes first before God. In my work bible group, I am sometimes more focused on getting the group finished by a certain time rather than listening to what they are saying. Once I have done my jobs than I can bring God in. But Jesus says there can’t be any but first “he must be our first priority”.
I think like the other men in Luke 9 – I forget who Jesus is and what he has done for us. I ask Jesus to come into my life, to forgive my sins and answer my prayers but I then don’t follow God when I don’t have him at the centre of my actions.
No one qualifies for Jesus’ kingdom. It’s all by grace but serving him and knowing him Keller suggests will allow the healing power of God to flow through you. At his point I think it’s good to ask the question – are we willing to lose those things in order to follow him? Jesus is not another in the line of prophets – he is our creator and saviour who died for us and he tells us that he must be our first priority.
2. Finding a New Identity
Discipleship is not just a matter of bending your will to Jesus’ will. Neither is someone who simply sets a new priority. It is about changing and reshaping you heart into a new shape.
What does that mean? Hopefully you will understand by the end 😊
In Luke 9 Jesus tells us to lose our current way as seeking a self-identity. If we get the whole world (wealth, career, family etc) it cannot give us a stable self. Instead we should lose this identity for God and instead of trying to gain a self by gaining things we should build everything in our lives on God. In serving God we will finally have a true self that is stable.
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
How is that possible to have a new priority / identity?
————–à by living a new Mercy i.e. being merciful in your life to others. Particularly to those who don’t deserve it.
3. Living a new Mercy
The key to setting a new priority and finding a new identity is in living a new mercy. Jesus shows us this when he rebukes his disciples for wanting to discipline the people who did not accept Jesus. He shows us when he heals the ear of the soldier in the garden who comes to kill him. He shows us on the cross as the soldier hammers nails through his hands – he says:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”
The Son of Man came to be rejected and to be killed. This is the secret to the change of identity. You have to be amazed and astounded that he took the fire, the punishment, for us. And that’s the key to everything else.
If we love God first, if we build our identity on him and if we show mercy to others like Jesus has done for us than we will be great Disciples of God.
· Discipleship is a life journey
· Focus on being more gentle, tolerant and gracious to the people around you.
· Follow Jesus and put him at the centre of your life and he will give you exactly what you need. He will love you singularly. He will love the real you. He will love you into a whole new identity.