Can one be a Christian without being a disciple? Some may consider being a Christian as simply believing Jesus was Who He said He was. If this is the case, there could be many in the world who would characterize themselves as Christians without considering the disciple aspect. The word disciple means to be an adherent to a teaching, while the word Christian indicates being a follower of Christ. In Luke 6:40 Jesus tells His followers that a pupil is not above his teacher, but rather when he is fully trained he will be like his teacher. This would indicate that to be a Christian one must be a disciple. Now, the question to ask is, since I claim to be a Christian, am I a disciple, and what does being a disciple involve? More importantly, by what standard am I considering myself a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Luke 9:23, Jesus Himself tells us what it means to be His disciple as we read, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (NAS) First, and foremost a disciple must have a desire. As with anything, without desire, there will be no pursuit. If we don’t want a particular job, or education level, or even a material possession, we will not strive to obtain it. The same holds true of a disciple. Self denial is a “must have” attitude. Our desires and wishes will be set aside in order to meet the needs of others first. “Taking up our cross” is carrying out our purpose of service, and “daily” indicates that it isn’t an occasional event, but rather each and every day! Jesus’ cross led Him to Calvary, where His death became atonement for our sins. His ultimate service, beyond all the other things He did, was to “seek and to save that which is lost.” Ask yourself now, as a Christian, “What am I doing daily in my service to God and others, particularly in reaching the lost?” The last characteristic is “following” Jesus. This means making His life the pattern for ours (1 Peter 2:21) and taking His teachings and examples and making them our own. This is what the Teacher tells us His disciples are like. Are you Jesus’ disciple as God’s Word defines?
Copyright © 2007, Nolan P. Rutter