There are those who suggest that relationships are built upon the idea of “give and take,” while others have suggested that relationships are 50/50. Although both of these ideas have some essence of truth, I believe we are better served to look at relationships as being mutual. Mutual is defined as directed or received by each toward the other. When it comes to teaching new disciples, it is essential for them to learn about their mutual relationship with God once they become part of the church.
This is revealed in the teaching of Jesus. The cross is near and so is the time for the apostles to go and start preaching the word about the new kingdom, Christ’s church. This church, the only church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4), purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28), also known as His body (Colossians 1:18), will be the only place where “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3) What God offers sinful man is amazing!
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father
will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
Jesus makes it clear: the most important part of our relationship with God is love. He teaches us that it is the greatest of all commandments. (Mark 12:31) We will look at the commandment side of things in a moment, but we must first of all grasp this idea of love. 1st John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Our love for God is directly linked to our awareness of His love for us; and thus, our need for Him. The natural progression of such love is that of obedience; that is, keeping His word. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” God is not seeking from us anything that He is not committed to doing Himself. Our obedience is deeply rooted in His faithfulness!
When we, as His disciples, embrace the mutual relationship God yearns to have with us, we can be assured that His love and presence will always be there. We will be at home and there is no place like home.
In our religious world, the word disciple carries with it the idea of being a follower. Of course, what does it mean to be a follower? Here is where further insight into the word can be very helpful. For instance, Vine’s explains that the word disciple (mathetes) literally means a leaner; hence it denotes one who follows one’s teaching. As we have seen already from Luke 14:25-35 in the last two lessons, our intent is to be a disciple of Christ; thus, it is His teachings we should be following.
What does this have to do with bringing people to Christ? Remember, when Jesus gave the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20, the first thing he wants us to do is to help reveal to others what God teaches about being a disciple. We will do this not only by revealing to them what God teaches, but also by modeling it before them. So, what are some characteristics of those who call themselves disciples of Christ? You know these already, I suspect, but they are worth mentioning.
One thing that comes to mind is found in Paul’s words to Timothy. He says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15) For the disciple, how we choose to treat God’s word is noticeable, for it is intimately involved in our transformation; something others can see.
Not only are we to do our best, but we are to make every effort. Peter exhorts the disciples saying, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith . . .” (2nd Peter 1:3) Because of our new found faith in Christ, disciples are to be intentional learners which will in turn help to keep them from being “ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2nd Peter 1:8)
As disciples, we should be seeking to become equipped to help make other disciples. This is part of the great commission which our Lord has given to us. The most effective way to help make one, is to live as one: Someone who is doing their best to add to their faith because they know and have been impacted by the love of Christ. I wonder, do you think people would notice? I suspect they would, and possibly even come and ask you about the hope that you have. Let us be convicted anew about what it means to be a follower of Christ: to the glory of His name and the furtherance of His church.