A Believer, a Follower or a Disciple?

Jun 24, 2019

The choice is ours: to be a believer, a follower or a disciple of Jesus. Each one is a big step into the full life that Christ offers us. To be a believer is to accept the teachings of the Bible, to embrace the life Jesus lived on this earth, to join with others in worshipping God along with His Son and His Holy Spirit, a God-head Trinity that created and sustains the universe, that seeks a personal relationship with each of His human creatures, that would lead us to the fullness of life as we were created to be.

 

This is the first step into the life that Jesus Christ offers us: to believe in Him.  It means that we learn all the teachings in the Bible, we focus on learning as much about Him that we can absorb. We pray to this God of ours lifting up all our sin, our challenges, and our gratitude. In this way we are beginning to imagine a life lived with Him. We pray for others in their challenges. And we open ourselves to where Christ would lead us.

 

The second step is this: to follow Jesus. This step requires a commitment to follow Him in everything we do, a surrender of our lives to Christ. Some call this to be born again. It is a big step forward, a huge step towards a total surrender of our lives to Christ. This step entails following, listening to Jesus, to the Indwelling Spirit of God, and obeying what He suggests.

 

Like the disciples, as we walk with Jesus, we learn all that He wants to teach us. We do what He asks of us. In all things we listen to His wisdom within us and follow it wherever it leads us. He knows us so much better than we know ourselves, so if we follow His lead, we are going to become the fullness of who we were created to be. We will be healed of all that stands between us and God, between us and a full life. And we will find our purpose. And we stay open to wherever God would take us.

 

And yet there is a step beyond following Jesus into discipleship. Here we are a full partner with Christ, energized by the Holy Spirit and fulfilling our destiny and doing our part to save the world. Jesus’s disciples experienced this stage of the journey when, at Pentecost, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul knew this stage after he processed His meeting with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. These men then became disciples, living versions of Jesus himself, preaching, healing, casting out demons and establishing the new church. There is a palpable difference between a follower and a disciple. Before they were dependent on Jesus to tell them where to go and what to do and how to be. Now, engaged with the Holy Spirit, in full partnership, they just know what they are to do.

 

Philip, at an angel’s call, met an Ethiopian eunuch on a desert road. They traveled for some time together and Philip answered his questions about Jesus. Then Philip baptized him.[1]  Paul traveled the Mediterranean ministering to the Gentiles.[2] Peter eventually extended his ministry to the Gentiles: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”[3]  These are just a few examples of all that they were called to do. They experienced a oneness with the Spirit of God, of Christ that motivates them and determines their every step. They are active partners in the life to which Jesus first called them. And living in the kingdom of God.

 

These are our choices, too. Are we going to settle for just believing in Him? And being steeped in the texts? And going to church? And being “good” people? Or will we follow Him wherever He leads us? And will we give our lives over to Christ and learn what He has in store for us?  Will we allow the last step of discipleship to come fully into our lives? Will we go all the way that Jesus has laid out for us in the Gospels and Acts? Will we allow Him to totally take over our lives so that we might really make a difference in this world, doing God’s work in the world?

 

How far we go along this road is up to the Lord. But we can severely limit His partnership with us by our unwillingness to go as far as He would take us. We need to keep asking the Lord 1)if we are living too much in the world and too little in Him and 2)how we are limiting His influence in our lives, and if so, then asking what we need to do to open ourselves up to His vision for us. We must allow the Lord to take us as far as He will, so that we can fulfill our destiny as His children, who were made in His image.[4]

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Questions to ponder over the week: Am I a believer, a follower or a disciple of Jesus? How much difference has He made in my life? What is He calling me to let go of or to do now? What still needs healing in me? Do I lean on Him in every aspect of my life? Do I abide in Him?

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Blessing for the week: May we be believers, then followers and disciples of Jesus. May we be willing to go wherever God takes us. May we live in peace and fellowship and love.

 

 

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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. June 19th is titled “How to be present to God’s peace.”

 

[1] Acts 8:26-40

[2] Acts Chapters 9, 11-28

[3] Acts 10:34-35

[4] Genesis 1:27

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