I've had something on my mind for quite awhile. What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Most folks believe a disciple is anyone who has faith in the Lord Jesus. I think in a broad sense, they're right. However not every "disciple" is being "discipled".
I think there's a huge gap between calling yourself a disciple and actually being discipled. A "disciple" is what you are - a noun that implies you're sitting under the lordship of a Master. "Being discipled", on the other hand, is a verb, an action, a daily pursuit to learn from that Master.
To give an example, it's safe to say every child in a classroom is a student. But not every child studies. You might have the slacker, the class clown, or the one who's always asleep in the same class as the child who actively seeks to excel.
There are so many people in this world who profess Christ and claim to be disciples. Perhaps they are true believers, only God can read their hearts. However, it's not too hard to discern they aren't making an effort to disciple themselves by the Word of God. Famous singers and actors profess Christ, yet their music is laced with profanity and their movies are morally ambiguous.
I realize there's a disconnect between real life and fiction. I used to write fiction, after all. But I cannot for the life of me picture the Apostle Paul writing erotica, singing songs with foul or suggestive language, or acting in questionable movies. If the Lord Jesus Christ Himself wouldn't do these things, then why do His followers? It might boost one's career, but it does nothing for one's relationship with Christ, and in fact, these types of behaviors actually harm that relationship.
I'm not just talking about famous people, but everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus. As disciples of Christ, we represent Him here on earth. Scripture calls us ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means our citizenship is in another world and we're representing our homeland here on earth -- the Kingdom of God.
If you were an ambassador for the United States, how would you act to represent this country? It is no different as an ambassador for Christ. We are His Body here on earth. If someone knows you're a believer, yet witnesses your half-hearted commitment to our Lord, what does that say about you, about your salvation, and about your love for Jesus?
God made it clear through Christ's Two Great Commandments what true discipleship looks like. We love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. This isn't some passing fancy. This isn't lip-service. We don't love God in the same way we might "love" our roommate. Think about the measure of devotion one must have to love another with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Think about how difficult it is to be selfless rather than selfish. But that's what God calls us to do. He wants us to love Him with every last atom of our existence and pour ourselves out for others.
That means all affection, adoration, and devotion belong to God. Heart.
All your prayers, worship, and eternity belong to God. Soul.
All your thoughts, studies, and entertainment belong to God. Mind.
All your willpower, all your perseverance, and all your ability to follow belong to God. Strength.
All of these are accomplished when we earnestly seek God. He promises over and over that if we seek Him, He will be found (Deuteronomy 4:29, Matthew 7:7). No one can do this on their own. We need to pray for God's help to love Him in this way, as we cannot make ourselves do something that is foreign to us. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we're bound to fail.
For myself, I asked God to help me love Him like the Apostles. It was a genuine prayer, from my heart, and God granted it because it is His will for every child of God to know Him as the Twelve knew Him. In fact, you can be sure any genuine prayer you pray to better yourself for the Kingdom of God will be heard and answered. The Apostle John told us if we pray according to the will of God, we have what we've asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).
We might not know God's will for our lives in the day-to-day, but I'm confident in this, that God's will for each of His children is to know Him. If we point our prayers in that direction, for God to reveal Himself to us, to give us a love for His Word, to fan the flames of our hearts, to learn more about Jesus, to do good works for His Kingdom, to love others, to be a light for Him, to equip us with knowledge and wisdom in Him, then He will honor these prayers and by His will, the Holy Spirit shall begin discipling you.
Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is not easy. Likely that's why many don't disciple themselves. I used to write erotic romance. When I decided to disciple myself, I retired. And it was a joy to do so. Remember, I had prayed for God to help me in this. When I laid down my writing for Jesus, I knew I was doing so for His glory, and not my own. I no longer wanted my mind to be filled with such thoughts. I no longer wanted to be an accomplice of filling the minds of my readers with such thoughts.
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about food that's been offered to idols and whether or not it should be eaten. My issue wasn't with food, but the concept was sound -- don't live so as to make your weaker brother or sister stumble. I saw the vanity in what I was doing, that the Kingdom wasn't advancing through me, that Christ wasn't glorified through me, that others couldn't see Him in me.
As a Christian, I quite literally disgusted myself.
But the Lord takes what the enemy means for evil and works it for good. I'm still a writer, but now I write for God. And pretty much everyone who knew me before knows what I do now. If I had retired quietly, God wouldn't have been given the glory.
The point I'm trying to make here is that Christians need to be discipled. We have it in our heads that we need to do it in groups, have a mentor, or have an older Christian to guide us. While those are wonderful resources to have, I have learned the Holy Spirit is quite capable of discipling a child of God all on His own (1 John 2:27). Everything you read on my blog I've learned under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. I retired from writing romance in 2011 and these past few years have rushed by like a hurricane - God has restored the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25) and used me to reach you.
Everything I do on my blog, I do out of love for my brethren in Christ. I truly feel as if the Lord is moving through the candlesticks of His Church and fanning the flames in the hearts of every true believer. I have an intense desire to urge His Bride to wake up, stand up, and look up for their Bridegroom and know Him as I do. I meet a lot of disciples of Christ. But it is rare to find those who are actively being discipled.
If you are a Christian, you must grow in the Lord. Don't be content to be a withered little sproutling in a dark corner of the Lord's garden. Endeavor to become a mighty oak, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither (Psalm 1:3). Ask God to make you a Christian who abides in Vine, one who has the Word of Christ dwelling in them richly. Ask the Lord to make rivers of Living Water flow from your heart. Ask God to mold you and shape you into a mature Christian who actively seeks Him in both prayer and study.
If you do this, then Christ can and will use you mightily for the Kingdom of God. And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.