Jesus says in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." True Christian faith, the kind that Jesus taught, goes beyond a one time decision. When we truly come to know Christ we will want to know more about Him, and this personal knowledge only comes through a personal relationship with Him. Those that are willing to follow Him daily, in every aspect of their life, are called "disciples". Here are some traits of true disciples:
Traits of a Disciple:
- Defined by the transforming work of Christ - Discipleship begins with a personal relationship with Christ. Through this personal relationship Jesus transforms our life by aligning our heart with His. We no longer live for our own desires, but for the desires God has for us (1 John 1:8-10; Romans 10:9-10).
- Involved in biblical community - A disciple should be involved in the lives of other believers. We should feel a sense of belonging, or sense of community, with others who have come to know Christ. Being part of a group of people who are pursuing Christ in their daily lives helps encourage us on our own path of discipleship (Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 1:16).
- Seeking continual spiritual growth - We never "arrive" as a disciple of Christ. After we come to know Christ we begin a journey of growth through which God continually changes us. In order for spiritual growth to occur, we must be committed to disciplining ourselves to be obedient to God and following his direction for our lives. Through personal times of prayer, studying God's word, worship, serving, and more God teaches us more and more about what it means to follow him (Ephesians 4:13-15).
- Committed to Christlike characteristics - Jesus said in John 13:15, "I have given you an example that you should do just as I have done for you." A disciple seeks to follow the example of Christ above all others. Our character should be molded to his. We should seek to model the characteristics that Jesus himself had, and influence others to do the same (Philippians 2:13).
- Intentionally engaging unbelievers and making disciples - The most important call on the life of a disciple is the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20. The commandment to make disciples of all nations requires intentional action in the lives of believers. In other words, disciples are not made by accident. A disciple should be very intentional about engaging people through personal relationships, using all of their influence, to lead people to Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 2:10).
- Pursuing biblical truth and doctrine - The Bible is an essential tool in the process of discipleship. It teaches us everything we can possibly know about God, Jesus, salvation and other vital components of the faith. A disciple should prioritize the teachings of scripture, God's own words to us, above personal experience and opinion. To prioritize the Word, we need to know the Word, and we only come to know the Word by studying it. Understanding biblical doctrine (a "doctrine" is what the whole Bible teaches about any particular topic) helps us come to a deeper understanding of God which leads us to more effective obedience to Him (John 8:31-32; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Living under the Lordship of Christ - True faith in Christ is evidenced by a person's submission to God in their day-to-day life. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says that in order to follow him a person must "deny himself" and "take up his cross daily". This is what Lordship looks like in the life of a disciple. We put personal sin to death and pursue God's design for our lives by submitting our will to His (John 15:4-8).
- Engaging in God-exalting worship - Worship is more than just singing songs during a church worship service. Romans 12:1-2 state that we are to offer our whole self to God (our time, affections, attention, etc.) as an act of worship. Personal worship allows transforms us, renews our mind, and helps us discern what God's good, pleasing and perfect will is for us (Romans 12:1-2). Worship is also something we do with other believers. Corporate worship (or worship with other believers) should be a regular practice in the life of a disciple (John 13:34-35; Hebrews 10:24-25).
We want to help you grow in your relationship with Christ. One of the best ways for you to accomplish this is to get involved in the life of the church. A good starting point would be to give three hours per week.
- An hour of corporate worship.
- An hour of small group Bible study.
- An hour of serving.