I never truly knew what “Discipleship” meant until earlier this year – while at the Women’s Retreat. As I sat in my seat at the “Bonus Session”, God gave me His vision for discipleship.
Previously, I had heard about the need, as Christ followers, to be disciples, but I didn’t really know what that meant. Whenever I thought about “discipleship”, for some reason, I had it in my mind that this was a very confusing and formal thing. I thought it called for some complicated procedures or some particular formula.
It’s actually quite simple, really. Discipleship, in a nutshell, means to simply be Jesus . A disciple is one who is following Christ, being changed by Christ , and is committed to Christ’s mission to save people from their sin. Discipleship is coming alongside others, encouraging them to be a disciple of Jesus as well.
During the particular session, I kept thinking in the back of my mind, “Well, I’m not perfect – so how could I ever disciple other people when I don’t even have it put together myself!?” In those moments, the hand of my friend sitting in front of me went up – in her own words, she stated exactly what I was feeling. Since it was several months ago, I don’t remember exactly how Suzie eloquently responded to this, but she basically told us that we don’t need to “have it all together” in order to speak God’s truth into the lives of those around us – in order to be disciples. Though we are all in the process of God making us more and more like Christ, He wants to use us to point others to Jesus.
The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Some versions say, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”, or even “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” And though all these different versions of the same verse contain the same meaning, being the writer that I am, I love words and am very particular with my choice of words. The reason why I like that it says “followers” is because I imagine this picture in my mind of a train of people: one person is following in the footsteps of the person in front, who follows the person in front of them, and so on and so forth, but all of us are first and foremost following Jesus.
Now, as 21 st Century Christian women, we might look at that verse and say, “Well, come on – that was Paul – of course he can say that!” However, when we examine ourselves, we don’t want to make this statement since we’re not perfect in our following God – how could we ever lead other people in following God too? Yet, Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained this [knowing Christ and being found in Him] or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Just as Jesus asked His own disciples to leave everything and “ Follow Me”, Jesus is at the door of our hearts, asking each of us: “Will you leave all to follow Me?” As Jesus’ disciples, we get the privilege of inviting others to join us as we follow Christ – not because we are perfect in walking out our faith, but because Christ in us is perfecting us and making us more like Him.