The ultimate goal in our faith life is to be a disciple of Jesus. Above all, the disciple must be able to perform what the teacher has done and walk on his path. Today, however, many people believe in Jesus, but not all of them become his disciples. Being his disciple is both an infinite honor and a challenge for them. The New Testament shows that the word "Christian" appears only three times, while the word "disciple" appears 269 times. We should remember that the goal of faith life for the believers is to resemble the Lord and become his disciples.
Then what is our current situation in being a disciple of this Lord? It is important to ask ourselves whether anyone who believes in Jesus lives as his disciple. Being a disciple of the Lord does not require the special conditions or qualifications spoken in the world. But the problem is that many people refuse to be disciples because they feel uncomfortable about being disciples of the Lord. The Lord has obviously called them disciples, but they are turning blind eyes to the path of a disciple while complacent in their comfortable religious lives. Therefore, we must realize the desperation of the Lord, who is calling a disciple, and show the change in becoming his disciples.
The ways of discipleship taught by Jesus
There is a Bible verse that comes to mind whenever I think of the Lord's teachings about disciples, which is 1Peter 2:21. "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." Here we find two key verbs, one is "to be an example," and the other is "to follow." It can be seen that he did not unilaterally order his disciples while calling, but set an example first and then ask them to follow. As such, the way to follow Jesus is to follow what he taught through words and deeds without any reason or excuse.
However, it seems easy to follow the Lord's will, but it is never as easy as I think. There are many reasons for this, but it is not easy to follow someone first because people's thoughts are so complicated and selfish. Many times, we can see that God's thoughts and our thoughts are as separate as totally different things in the midst of faith life. We become stubborn and try to carry them through even the times we know our thoughts are wrong. That's why so many people still see the reality that they don't live up to the discipleship taught by the Lord.
Then what were the disciples like in the early days of the public ministry of the Lord who served in this land? In this regard, it would be good to recall an anecdote when he called his disciples in the fishing village of Galilee. The Lord once traveled to the beach of Galilee and met Peter and his brother Andre and said, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." What was their reaction to hearing this at the time? And what was the reaction of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who followed? It is recorded that they abandoned the boat, net, and father just like they promised and immediately followed Jesus. It is never easy to abandon their physical father even though they can abandon the boat and net, but they have chosen that path. They could immediately follow the path without having time to think about it.
As shown by this fact, the disciples who were called by the Lord at the time were able to practice the discipleship he taught. In other words, they followed his teachings even in situations where there were disadvantages, damages and life became uncomfortable. When Jesus proclaimed God's reign and taught them here and there, they gave up the families and occupations and followed him. In other words, the discipleship taught by the Lord begins with following his words and teachings in any situation like this. That is why discipleship is not about achieving something new, but can be completed by simply following the Lord. We often tend to think what we think is right, but our thoughts can't be more certain than those of the Lord. In response, the prophet says in Isaiah 55:8-9. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
People who don't become disciples
Jesus granted the mission to those who believed in him as he completed the earthly ministry. This is what is referred to as The Great Commission, which is recorded in Chapter 28 of the Gospel of Matthew. Throughout his ministry, he devoted himself to the salvation of souls with a compassion of one soul valued more than the whole universe. The ministry of the Lord was focused on saving a soul and entrusted it to his disciples until the moment he left this land. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." So the disciple of the Lord must understand his heart and handle the things he has ordered. Whoever called to be a disciple of the Lord must complete the mission of evangelism given to him no matter what happens.
Unfortunately, many people have been called disciples today, but it is not easy to find anyone who can handle this mission. In other words, there are not a few people who don't even realize that they are called to be disciples. Going to church regularly and having a title in the church for a long time does not automatically make us the disciples. Of course, graduating from a discipleship school and attending a discipleship seminar do not make us qualified to be disciples. In that sense, I can't help but feel stuffy and afraid when I see the church today. It's a pity what the Lord will say when he sees people called as disciples but cannot handle the role at all. I could not help but be shocked when I saw people under the illusion that they were playing a great role as disciples of the Lord.
Pastor Jess Moody, a spiritual evangelist, diagnoses that churches today are full of "undisciplined disciples." In other words, each church is full of beings such as wind eggs who cannot conceive life through Jesus. The pattern resembles Jesus, but the content shows that it has nothing to do with him. No man can be recognized as his disciple if he does not produce a new life by following the word of the Lord. In other words, if we are the disciples of Jesus, we should control the power of Satan in our lives and reveal the glory of Christ as a soldier of the Holy Spirit. Of course, no matter what hardships come, we must be the witnesses who reveal the glory of God and shine the light of the Lord. So if we cannot handle this mission, we cannot be a disciple of the Lord no matter how splendor the worship is. We must not forget that the Lord cannot use anyone as Christ's disciple who lost its identity.
It's time to be reborn as a disciple
Those who wish to go on the path of their disciples must sometimes pay a high price. Consider the fact that the Lord himself suffered from crucifixion to save mankind who was mired in sin and death. His sufferings are a great example for those who want to live as disciples. We must be prepared to make any sacrifice as disciples of the Lord in living on this earth. If we want to be disciples, we should be able to bear the sacrifices and difficulties in following him, even if it is not the same hardship he has received.
In that sense, Apostle Paul was not lacking as Lord's disciple even though he is not included in the Lord's twelve disciples. On his way to Damascus, he met the Lord and became a disciple of Jesus, and Saul who followed the world was able to be born again as Paul who followed the Lord. In the Early Church, there were many disciples of the Lord who followed Jesus, including Policarp, and died without a name or light. They may have been men of no name on this earth, but I believe they will be remembered as famous people in the kingdom of the Lord. As such, one can think of the fact that once chosen as a disciple of the Lord, he will be remembered as an eternal disciple.
Through these facts, we realize the justification of becoming a disciple of Jesus. In other words, we should not habitually believe in Jesus if we want to be a disciple. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer of Germany said in his book "The Cost of Discipleship," we should not remain in a state of "cheap grace." Now, there will be a distinction between wheat and the chaff among those who enter and leave the sanctuary and it should also be remembered that there is a judgment. "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
In that sense, everyone who believes in Jesus should listen to his words as well as the detailed voice he hears through the Holy Spirit today. We must realize the mission of the disciples in living in this ever-changing era from day to day, and Luke 9:23 teaches this lesson. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." It can only be possible if we deny ourselves first and take up our cross in order for us to follow the Lord as his disciples. This means being close to the Lord by denying our righteousness, revealing and confessing the dirty scraps of sin and falsehood hidden inside. Through the name of Jesus, we can see that the moment when the self that followed the world disappears when we are born again as the disciples.