Discipleship, Part 2
By Jared & Laura King
Have you ever heard the song “Jesus is the Answer”? It goes something like this.
“Jesus is the answer for the world today, without him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.” If you grew up in church or have had any long term experience in churches that sing hymns then you know this song quite well. I love the simplicity of what it communicates. That our guide for life and faith is found in the person of Jesus.
When looking at what it means to “disciple” and to “be a disciple” there have been numerous methods and strategies developed for explaining what we are envisioning. Most of these strategies assume we are trying to look more like Jesus, which is the wrong order to start the discipleship process.
In the previous blog we mentioned John Mark Comer’s “Be WITH Jesus, become LIKE Jesus, DO what Jesus did” method for discipleship. We love this framework because it puts things in their proper order. A lot of discipleship strategies start with what we are supposed to DO and hope that will lead us to be WITH Jesus and become LIKE him. However, Jesus’ model begins with who we are as God’s children, being invited into God’s presence, and then as a result of that closeness with Jesus we are moved into the activity of Jesus.
When Jesus was baptized by John, he came out of the water and immediately heaven opened up and God declared that Jesus is his son, whom he loves, and in whom he is well pleased. Then the next section begins in Matthew 4:1 saying, “Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil.” After Jesus’ testing, he began his ministry to humanity.
This sequence is important. God’s declaration of Jesus as his son whom he loves shows a deeply connected Father WITH his son. The season in the desert helped further form Jesus as the savior of the world. And as a result of who Jesus is WITH God and his forming as savior, he then stepped into the activity of God for the good of the world.
This WITH, BECOME LIKE, DO sequence is Jesus’ method for discipleship. He invited Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the others into closeness with him. He taught them, forming them into people who could carry the mission of Jesus, and then gave them moments to step into that mission before fully handing it over to them in Acts 1.
The sequence is critical because it seeks to form our character before our capacity. Too often we have leaders in the Christian world whose capacity far outpaces their character. In the next blog we will talk about the damage that takes place when this is the order.
But in this blog we want to show what it looks like to be WITH Jesus first in our discipleship and how that forms us into his image.
First, being WITH Jesus will cause us to be deeply shaped and motivated by love.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Paul honed in on the simplicity of Jesus’ love. In 1 Cor. 13 he wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Without love as a starting block for discipleship we will miss everything else along the way. Discipleship begins by being shaped by the love of Jesus which then begins to cause us to look more and more like Jesus.
Second, being WITH Jesus will cause us to obediently follow his commands.
2 John 1:6 says “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
It can sometimes feel too simple to say “obeying Jesus’ commands means we will love others.” But look at what Jesus himself says in John 15:9-17. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
Jesus himself says his command is to love one another. The simplicity of Jesus is astounding. He says, if you want to remain WITH me then learn to love the people around you. Discipleship begins on the foundation of love. The love Jesus has for his people and the love we then have toward him and toward the people around us. If we miss this deeply critical truth about our discipleship then we will never BECOME LIKE Jesus and we will certainly not be able to effectively step into DOING the work of Jesus.
Be WITH Jesus. BECOME LIKE Jesus. DO what Jesus did. When we allow Jesus to be our guide this will be the method of our discipleship.