One of the most misunderstood words in Christianity is the word “discipleship”! And it shouldn’t be that way. Today we begin a series of messages on being a disciple of Jesus, what that means and how it can be lived out today. There’s a great challenge and opportunity embedded in today’s sermon.
My Mom makes an amazing Apple Pie. It’s so good that all other apple pies that I’ve ever tasted, pale in comparison. It’s so flavorful, the crust so perfect, the apples are just the right texture. So one day, in the hopes that I might make a pie like Mom’s, I asked for the recipe. She gave it to me, of course, and I cleared the kitchen to try it. I assembled the pie, the crust, followed the directions just the way they were written. I gently slid the pie into the preheated oven and waited the directed amount of time. I took it out; I cooled it, and then the moment. I sliced through that apple-y goodness and pulled out a slice, still warm. I took my fork, got a mouthful of pie on it and tasted it. It was okay, but it wasn’t Mom’s. I followed the recipe! What happened! Well come to find out, there were things that couldn’t be put in the recipe that Mom did when she made pie. I asked her how she learned to make apple pie and, come to find out, she didn’t learn from a recipe. She learned to make apple pie from her Mom, my Grandmother, by being with her while she made pies. There was eventually a recipe, but that’s not what made the Apple Pie the Apple Pie. It was the discipleship that made it such that my Mom could imitate my Grandmother’s ways instead of a recipe alone.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
What is a disciple?
A disciple is a person who is actively and exclusively following/embracing the teachings and lifestyle of a master. By personal and close quartered relationship, the disciple becomes like the master.
That kind of relationship has the ability to do something; to make you an effective version of the master.
It takes time. It takes relational skills. It requires commitment. It requires sacrifice. That’s counter culture here, because we want bottom line recipes that tell us how to do something without any personal relationship with the recipe maker. Are recipes helpful? Just check out a YouTube tutorial and you can find the recipe for just about any process or problem, but it’s not discipleship.
Jesus told us that we, the universal church of believers, were to go and make disciples of all nations. So discipleship is the foundational, central process that we need to be personally committed to.
Here are some powerful truths regarding discipleship…
First truth: A disciple, a believer and a Christian aren’t three different people; they are one and the same! If you are a believer in Jesus then you are called to be a disciple, specifically a disciple of Jesus.
Second truth about discipleship: A disciple always has the teacher/master as their great focus.
Here’s a third truth about discipleship: The end result of discipleship is that the disciple becomes like the Master.
In one incident in Acts, Peter and John were arrested for preaching and healing. It says that in the midst of the confrontation the leaders of the Jews realized something: these two had been with Jesus. Oh, that explains it. The same excitement, healing, preaching, and ministering in general as Jesus had been doing was going on here, so they must be disciples of Jesus.
Being a Christian isn’t about following a recipe, learning a formula or memorizing some facts. It’s about having a close working relationship with the Chef. Are there truths to learn? Yes. Are there important principles to follow? Sure. But unless you’re learning them in the context of being a disciple of Jesus, you’ll miss the heart of God in that truth or principle. Anyone can learn the truths and principles and make them work.
Only disciples can carry the image of the Christ, the life of Christ and the redemption of Christ in radical lives full of grace and truth.