Like many of the principles and teachings of the bible we easily misunderstand the truth that God is trying to burn into our heart. Take the concept of discipleship. I will guarantee that many born again Christians have the 'wrong end of the stick' concerning the meaning of this truth. Ask the average church goer the meaning of discipleship and they will tell you that it means a leaner of Jesus, or a follower of Jesus.
Such an understanding has 'scholarship' on their side for dictionary.com defines the term as - To be a learner. Another web site writes; The term "disciple" is derived from theKoine Greekwordmathetes, which means a pupil (of a teacher) or anapprentice(to a master craftsman), coming toEnglishby way of theLatindiscipulus meaning a learner while the more common English word is student.
But such a definition is Hellenistic in thought for this understanding is not the biblical meaning. To be a student of Jesus or a follower or an apprentice of his teachings is to place the yoke of the law back upon our necks. Discipleship is not about knowing/following Jesus and knowing his teachings.
The 'What' of Discipleship. until Christ is formed in you, Gal.4:19
On the last few weeks that Jesus walked this earth he spend time with the 12 as recorded in Johns gospel laying down foundational truths. One such radical concept is recorded in John 17 where Jesus prays that we may all be one with him as he was one with the Father. This isJesus' concept of discipleship – one with the Himself and one with God. This prayer Jesus is still praying today, that you and I may be one with Him.
The 'How' of Discipleship. to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritualact of worship. Rom. 12:1
We become disciples when we give up our rights to our self. Anything that has 'self' in the word has to be given up – self-sufficiency; self-realization; self pity; self belief; self assured; self-righteous; self-confident etc. Self has to die and Christ has to take the throne in our life. If anyone wishes to be a disciple they must loose their life and take up their cross. The sacrifice of myself to Christ is not a truth but an experience, for until we deny self we will be on no use to God.
The 'Why' of Discipleship. we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head,that is, Christ. Eph 4:15
Discipleship is not what we can do for God but what God can do with us. The disposition of Jesus has been born into our life so that we may with Gods help become His sons and daughters as he brings us unto His glory. Discipleship is that we become so identified with Christ sufferings that the glory of His Son is reflected in our lives. Discipleship is that we may have a resurrection like Jesus, not that of a saved soul, but of one who has proved in the dust bowl of life we are worthy to be called Gods sons and daughters, for like Him we learned obedience.
Jesus lived the normal pattern of life as a man that God desires us to imitate, in that he expects us to do the same, by having the same mind as Jesus; in that he did not think more highly of himself but become a servant and humbled himself. How can we enter into this life? By the way of the Cross. The cross is the gateway into the life that God expects us to live on this earth. The cross is the only way that we can sacrifice the natural in order to transform it into the spiritual.
Discipleship is that we are of use to God for he can work through us; he uses us as he likes, he allocates us where he wills as we learn obedience.
This blog does a good job of explaining the middle eastern view of what it means to be a disciple. A disciple was not merely someone who followed another person from place to place. They are like sponges, absorbing both the teaching and behavior of the one whom they are following. They are, in essence, his example when he is not physically present and wield his authority. When one looks at a true disciple, they should see the master in both word and action. This is why Paul speaks of being an imitator of Christ.
It is very sobering isn't it.