The Call to Discipleship

Many of us who faithfully gather each week to worship gladly answer to the call of Christian. And while that is of course an accurate description of those who follow Christ, it is worthwhile to note that in the New Testament, the term "Christian" appears only three times. This designation was made by those outside this belief system to describe people zealously embracing their new faith.

However, throughout the Scriptures, early disciples primarily referred to themselves as "disciples." We can examine the New Testament to determine significance of being a disciple, and the characteristics of a true follower of Jesus. 

First, being a disciple means being devoted to learning from the Master. This is demonstrated when Jesus commends Mary's choice to sit at His feet and listen to His words while visiting her home.  Luke 10:38-42 emphasizes that learning from Him is of utmost importance. As disciples, we should eagerly absorb everything Jesus taught and allow His teachings to shape our thoughts and actions.

Equally important, disciples must follow Jesus’ example of sacrifice to truly become like Him. Jesus emphasized this when He instructed His disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. He also warns us in Matthew 16:24-26 that gaining the world at the cost of one's soul is a worthless pursuit. Discipleship requires that we be willing to suffer for Jesus, giving up worldly attachments, and embracing a different life path if necessary (Luke 14:26-27, 14:33, Matthew 8:18-22). 

And, as disciples, we are called to mold ourselves into the image of Jesus. We must renounce sin and align our lives with His teachings (Matthew 5:20, 16:24). Jesus is our ultimate example, and we are to become like Him (Matthew 10:24-25). This transformative process may involve tribulations and challenges, but it is worth the effort for the reward that awaits us (Acts 14:21-22).

Being a disciple of Jesus is more than a mere label. It is a commitment to transformation, even when that transformation comes at a cost. We strive for holiness and seek to be with God for eternity. We must embrace the journey of discipleship and be willing to suffer and endure hardships for their devotion to Christ.

Today, many people claim to be Christians, but fewer embody the true essence of discipleship. Let us examine ourselves and ask whether we are truly disciples in pursuit of learning, sacrifice, and transformation. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe His commandments (Matthew 28:19-20). By embracing our own discipleship, we become equipped to fulfill this Great Commission.