What is a disciple?

I thought I would recap a few things from my message on discipleship this last Sunday, in case you missed it.

In the Great Commission, Jesus told us all to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. But what does that mean to make disciples? And more to the point, what exactly is a disciple?

As I have stated before, every disciple is a Christian, but not every Christian is necessarily a disciple. So, before I can make disciples, I have to be sure that I myself am one, because it takes one to make one.

In Luke 14, Jesus laid out His requirements for discipleship. Let’s look at one of them here.

1. The disciple must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.

Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

I know that statement sounds shocking to us today. We ask, “Is Jesus really asking me to hate my family members to follow Him?”

In the light of the New Testament, we see that Jesus was not demanding an unqualified hatred. He could not command us to honor our fathers and mothers and then also demand that we hate them.

He could not command husbands to love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, and then advise them to hate them. He could not tell His followers to love their enemies and hate them at the same time.

The fact is that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and love one another as Christ has loved us. That is what Scripture teaches.

How can I hate and love at the same time?

So what gives with this statement about hating father, mother, wife, children, etc.?

Jesus was using the method of sharp contrasts, essentially saying that your love for God must be so strong, so intense, that all other loves would be like hatred in comparison.

Another way to say it would be, “If you want to really be My disciple, and live your Christian life to its fullest, you must love Me more than anyone or anything else!”

Again, more than anything or anyone else. You must love God more than your career or your possessions. You must love God more than your friends. You must love God even more than your family!

You might say, “My marriage is the most important thing in my life! My wife/husband is my No. 1 priority!”

As noble as that sounds, it is the wrong No. 1 priority. Marriage is important, but it should not be the most important thing in your life.

Jesus should be.

The fact is that when you make Jesus the center of your life, you will be a better spouse.

Others might say, “Our children are the center of our life!” Listen, Jesus should be the center of your life! In fact, if you want to ruin your children, make them the center of your life.

The best thing we can do for our children is to show them how to make Jesus the Center of their lives because He is the center of yours.

That’s what a disciple does. More on this tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “What is a disciple?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Christ is my LIFE….. It goes way beyond being a first priority….

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the comments, Greg. God is so loving that, through a series of catastrophic events in my life, caused me to make him the utmost priority. I had to. It was by far the best decision I have ever made.

  3. Maurice Oliver says:

    A disciple takes the Great Commission as a command and does his/her part to share the Gospel with as many as we are able, and pray the seeds planted will bring a fruitful harvest.

  4. Maurice Oliver says:

    I have enjoyed reading and using your book “Discipleship, the road less taken” and continue to get new nuggets each time I go back through it. I was challenged just last evening as I called my Mom, and we were discussing Mark 9:43-50, because her Pastor had referred to the graphic language as humor, and I see it as not humor but a serious warning about the consequences of clinging to immoral behavior or habits. I do appreciate the fact this discussion made me dig deeper into the scripture and take away the teaching of vs 50 , the qualities of salt. Look forward to tommorrows lesson.
    In Christ,

  5. Bridget Willard says:

    Amen. It’s hard when you are the first (only) Christian in your family, and this is a good verse to cling to.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for offering the invitation to stand-up on Sunday to accept the call to be a disciple of God. My daughter and I both stood and discussed later that she had been wanting to take a stand for Christ again in church as a Christian for a while. It was definatley a blessing and I hope I can live up to what I chose to do. It’s only the first day after and I’m wondering if I have what it takes to put Jesus Christ first all the time. I have spent so many years thinking really only of myself. Temptations are all around, and to be honest, sometimes I want to give in to them. The desire of my heart is to know God yet I know that the more I look to Him the less I will look to myself and I’m realizing that part of this process is painfull.
    I guess that’s what’s called sanctification.

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