A disciple is one who follows and learns. The term comes from the Latin word discipulus, meaning student, pupil, or follower. And yet a disciple is more than a mere student. A true disciple must immerse himself in the master's teaching. He must allow it to become a way of life, not just a set of ideas. The deeper he goes, the truer a disciple he becomes.
In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells the Jews who have believed in Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." I think we'd all agree that we'd like to be free. And if we're followers of Christ, we also want to know His truth. So, then, continuing in His word is vital, if we are to attain these goals.
At least three things are required on the path to becoming Christ's true disciples:
1. Know the word. You can't follow a path if you don't know where it is. Similarly, you can't walk in the truth if you don't know what it is. Psalm 119:105 says that God's word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It shows us the way we ought to go.
2. Remove distractions. You won't get far on a journey if you keep taking side-paths that lead away from your goal. I John 2:15 instructs us not to love the world nor the things in the world. This is because the world around us is caught up in worldly, fleshly things. It isn't concerned about spiritual truths, so being too attached to the world will prevent us from setting our affections on things above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:2).
3. Begin following. You'll never get anywhere if you don't start. An old proverb says that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and that's true. Before Joshua's death, he urged the Israelites to "choose for yourselves today whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). The same choice applies to you and me, every day of our lives. Yes, we have chosen Christ once. But if we want to continue down the path with Him, if we want to grow in Him, we also keep choosing Him, moment by moment and day by day.
My purpose over the next few weeks is to outline how to get from where you are to where you want to be in a relationship with Christ. In other words, I want to help you reach that spot where you can look at your life, evaluate it in light of John 8:31 ("If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine"), and say, "Yes! That's me!"
In my next post, I'll introduce some tools that will help us as we journey together toward discipleship.