Are you a disciple, or just a Christian? Some say, “Aren’t all Christians disciples?” Matthew description of a disciple makes me wonder. A Christian is anyone who has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. But most Christians don’t live up to the qualities of discipleship.
Does that mean that if we don’t live up to these standards we’re not saved? No, that would be a salvation determined on our works. The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace through faith. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
But there are a lot of people who have truly put their faith in Jesus as their Savior do not live up to these standards of discipleship. It isn’t that they are not saved. They got saved and stopped! They accepted Jesus but never grow and follow Jesus to be a disciple.
Jesus said, “Surely you must be born again to see the kingdom of heaven.” When each of us gave our lives to Jesus we were born again by God coming into our lives, washing away our sin, and giving us eternal life. We know newborns need constant attention. You have to change them and feed them and comfort them all the time.
But as they grow up they begin to be able to take care of themselves. They wash and dress and feed themselves. As they become older they begin to be able to take some of the responsibility of caring for others. Well, some of us never grew up! We were born again and then we never got beyond infancy. We always want people to serve us. We are not willing to serve others. We are Christians because we accepted Christ, but we are not disciples because we do not follow Jesus in service.
“Are you a Disciple or just a Christian?” We have to know what a disciple is. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above the teacher.” A disciple is a student who learns at the feet of a teacher. The students of course learn from the teacher and don’t try to tell the teacher what is right.
Many Christians try to turn it the other way around. They tell Jesus how things should be - instead of listening to him. They are always finding ways to use the Bible to justify all kinds of sinful practices. They quote Bible verses in justification of everything from living in sin to racism.
Jesus is God, but he chose to become like us so that he could make us more like him. He stooped to our weakness and reached down to us. He even took on the role of a slave and washed his disciples’ dirty feet.
The problem today is that people aren’t willing to serve. We live in a culture - people want to be served but they won’t serve others. Most people come to church with the attitude, “What can I get out of it?” Instead of “What can I give to it?” But Jesus set a different example: he had every right to be served, chose to serve.
The first characteristic of a disciple is that they are servants. The second is that they don’t fear persecution. Jesus said, “Have no fear of them.” Because they can only hurt your body, but God can preserve your soul into eternal life. God cares for us much and will take care of us.
God has numbered the hairs on our heads. He takes notice when a sparrow falls. How much more will he notice and respond when we are in danger? Jesus closes, “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”
In the early church, many people denied Jesus for they were afraid of the Romans. There were some who did not fear those who could burn the body but who could not touch the soul. In 2nd century, Polycarp was arrested and they threatened him with death unless he cursed Jesus. He replied, “I have served him 86 years, and he never did me any wrong. How can I curse my King who saved me?”
We have chances every day to either confess or deny Jesus. In the way we live, we do one or the other. Do we speak up for the helpless, or do we keep silent when they are beaten? Do we read the Bible and pray daily, or do we neglect time with Jesus? Do we love and serve neighbor and enemy or do we neglect the former and despise the latter? We don’t have persecutor saying curse Jesus or die, but many of us curse Jesus daily through negligence of his will. Jesus said, “Whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”
Are you a disciple or just a Christian? Have you ever grown beyond your infancy in Jesus or are you still in a cradle? You could be 100 and still be an infant spiritually.
Does your life live up to the standards set by Jesus? Do you seek to serve, or to be served? Do you consider your opinion more than you considers Jesus’? Do you boldly proclaim Christ, or are you afraid to admit to your friends that you are a Christian? Are you willing to offend your neighbors or family to stand up for what is right?
If you are just a Christian, then I encourage you to become a disciple. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. It is not easy and you will fall, but rely on Jesus to help you grow. Take time to read his Word and to talk to him in prayer and he will guide you. Shalom and Amen!
Scripture: Matthew 10:24-39