Jesus gave the church its mission when He gave us His Great Commission to “make disciples of all people groups” (Matt 28:18-20). So if the local church is in the disciple-making business, then what is the essence of that calling? The answer starts with a who, more than a what. Who is a disciple and who do we disciple?
Who is a Disciple?
This week a friend observed that, “All born again people are disciples.” Do you agree with that statement? Let’s unpack it.
At the most basic level, a disciple is someone who follows Jesus. The New Testament uses several different words for “disciple,” but the one most often used (269 times) describes someone who both associates with and attaches to Jesus. It implies close, personal union for the purpose of becoming like Jesus. In other words, a disciple is a follower of Jesus who is becoming more like Him.
Yet we all know believers who are not following Jesus and becoming more like Him. We’ve all been that believer at times! Because of that reality in the Christian life, we’ve resolved the tension by creating two classes of believers—Christians and Disciples. Christians know Christ as Savior and trust Him for salvation. Disciples do this AND also follow Him as Lord.
Yet we don’t see this language in the New Testament. The Bible assumes that all born-again believers are disciples. If we have trusted Christ for salvation, we are His followers. The question now is how closely are we following Him? And that’s not a static question.
There are times we are following Jesus closely—listening to His voice through His Word, speaking to Him consistently through prayer, seeking to do what He tells us and trusting Him to empower us to do so. There are other times we follow at a distance or halfheartedly… or worse, we deliberately defy His lead. At these times, we haven’t stopped being a disciple. We’ve just stopped being a good one, a faithful one, a loving one.
If you know Jesus as Savior, then He knows you as His disciple. This puts us in the perfect position to hear and obey His lead—“to make disciples.”
Who do we Disciple?
Once we see ourselves as one of Jesus’ followers, the next logical question is “How do I obey His command to make disciples?” Again, the answer is a who, more than a how.
First, discipleship starts with your following of Jesus. Gary Harrell was famous at Fellowship for saying, “We feed others off of our own plates.” At Mosaic, we often call it “leading from the overflow.” We get the idea. Our first move in discipleship is an intimate walk with Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus is the platform for our discipleship relationship with others.
As we walk with and talk to Jesus, the first move is to ask Him to show us who He wants us to disciple. Walk through your everyday life with your spiritual eyes open. “Lord, would you help me see who you might want me to disciple? Would you give me courage and humility to ask them when you show me?”
This sounds almost too simple, but it’s the right next step in the discipleship journey. And it’s shockingly overlooked by us. For the next 30 days, ask the Lord to open your eyes to show you what He sees. Take this next best step toward being a disciple of Jesus who makes a disciple of Jesus.
Mark Schatzman is the Congregational Leader and Teaching Pastor at Mosaic.