Be a Disciple of Jesus
Edited by Becky Ferguson, Robbi, Lynn, Rob
Many followers of Jesus call themselves Christians, but not many call themselves disciples. Why is that? = The term Christian is not a label Jesus ever used to describe his people. Jesus called his followers disciples. There is no definition in the Bible of what it means to be a Christian, but a disciple is clearly defined.
- 1This is repeated throughout the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to "Love your neighbor as yourself". This is something that we as humans get wrong constantly. It is easy to love those in your life, but what about loving the stranger sitting next to you on the train? We often love those close to us, but fail to love those beyond our inner circle. Showing love to someone else can be as simple as holding open a door for them, or offering your seat on the bus. It can be smiling at a stranger while walking down the street, or offering to buy a coffee for someone in line behind you. Loving one another is thinking of others first and forgetting yourself. Try it - you'll be amazed at how easy it is to do. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35Love one another.Advertisement
- 2This is a difficult task for anyone to do, even someone who is strong in their faith. It is hard to love someone who has hurt you or has hurt someone you love. But Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. He died for ALL of us, including his enemies, so that we can love those who hurt us.Love your enemies.Advertisement
- 3As disciples of Jesus, it is part of our mission to share the Gospel. We can go to church on Sundays, read our Bible in private, and pray, but to be a true disciple we must also be sharing the message of Jesus. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19Spread the good news.
- 4This step will be difficult for many, especially those in developed countries. Culture and media tell us to always want more. They tell us we need to upgrade our electronics, buy a new car, purchase the latest trend. We are encouraged to live extravagantly and told that we deserve it. As a result, we live beyond our means and our greed is never fulfilled because we are always wanting more. Jesus told us to live simply, to leave all of our material things behind and follow Him. This does not mean we are being asked to give up our shelter or not feed ourselves, but it does mean knowing the difference between what we need and what we want. Do we need a new pair of boots or do we want a new pair of boots? Do we need the latest iPhone or do we want the latest iPhone? Living simply means to live on only what you need. You need food, water, shelter, clothing, shoes, and medicine. You do not need 10 pairs of shoes, an iPhone 5, a diamond bracelet or a 52 inch television. I believe it is OK to treat ourselves every now and then. We work hard, take care of our families, donate to our communities and charities, etc., so we don't have to feel guilty if we buy something new for ourselves. However, we do need to be aware of buying excessively and unnecessarily.Live simply.
- 5We live in a world of judgement. Everyone judges everyone else, whether it is judging a president for his leadership or judging a woman by her clothing choice. We judge each other based on appearance, speech, beliefs, choices, illnesses, actions, and lifestyle. However Jesus commanded us not to judge one another. He said only the Father can make judgments because He is perfect, but none of us are perfect so therefore we cannot judge each other. The day I will judge another person is the day I am perfect, and I promise you, I am far from perfect. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3Do not judge others.
- 6Jesus has called us to help one another, specifically to help the poor and widowed. We live in a broken world that is filled with pain, cruelty, hunger, poverty and sadness. As disciples of Christ it is our responsibility to help those who are suffering. There are numerous opportunities locally and globally where we can lend a hand. Volunteer at a local charity organization, go on a mission trip (there are many that are for just a week or two), foster a child, mentor a youth in need, visit the sick, or donate financially. These are some of the many ways you can help. Helping others is not just a command of Jesus, but it is something that will change you personally. It will open your eyes to the suffering of many, and ultimately to the amazing love of Jesus. "For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home." Matthew 25:35Help those in need..
- 7Being a disciple of Jesus requires us to work on and strengthen our relationship with him. We should be continuously praising and worshiping him. There are many ways to worship Jesus, including prayer, Bible study, musically, listening to sermons, serving in church, doing devotionals, thanking him, and serving others.Worship Jesus.
- 8Along with loving one another, Jesus told us to forgive each other of our sins. When we ask the Lord for forgiveness for our wrongdoings, he grants it instantly and our slate is wiped cleaned. He doesn't hold our sins against us, nor does he keep a file of our wrongdoings. He simply forgives. That is what we need for each other. Forgiving is not an easy thing to do, especially when someone has hurt you in a way that altered your life forever, but as disciples, we offer our forgiveness. Jesus told us not to hold grudges, seek revenge or remain angry. He asked us to forgive as he has forgiven us.Forgive.
- 9Jesus was often criticized for socializing with outcasts. He spent time with prostitutes, thieves and tax collectors, and He was condemned for it. However, despite the criticism and condemnation, he continued to seek the company of those deemed undesirable by society. When asked why, He said that they were the ones most in need of his support. Jesus asks his disciples to do the same. He asks us to befriend the outcasts and to welcome them into our homes. In today's society outcasts range from those without friends to those with certain diseases to those who are convicted criminals. Jesus asks us to reach out to these people and offer them friendship, kindness and compassion. "As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:9-13Welcome outcasts.
- 10Jesus came to the world to bring love and peace to all. He wanted violence to end and his people to live peacefully together. We look at the world today and it is alarming how much violence there is. There is abuse, torture, beatings and murder. This violence appears to be getting worse as time moves forward. As disciples we must live for peace. We must stand against violence, using our voice instead of weapons. We must protest against the wrongdoings in a peaceful way. As Jesus said we must "turn the other cheek". We cannot respond to violence with violence. We must lead the way peacefully.Live peacefully.
- 11Jesus called us to live in community. He called us to help each other, care for each other and work together. Our world today preaches independence. It teaches us to take care of ourselves and only worry about ourselves. It teaches us to live in isolation from one another. But humans were not designed to live in isolation. God created us to live in community. This means we are required to move out of our comfort zones and reach out to those around us. We need to form relationships with others and devote ourselves to serving one other.Live in community.
- 12This step goes hand in hand with the first step to love one another. If you love others, then you will naturally put them before yourself. However, humans are naturally selfish, so it does take discipline to become someone who puts others first. Learn to catch your selfish thoughts and reverse them immediately. By doing this, you will soon train your heart and mind to automatically put others before yourself, just as Jesus commanded. Remember that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. He died so that we may be forgiven. He put every one of us, despite our evil and selfishness, before himself.Put others before yourself.