There is a lot of talk about discipleship these days and rightfully so. We at Northstar are committed to helping the whole world find and follow Jesus. Following Jesus equates to discipling those who find Jesus. As in every thing we do at Northstar, we try to follow the lead of Jesus. And Jesus seemed to think discipleship was a big deal, putting it as the heart—and the verb—of the Great Commission to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.”
Discipleship at its core is the process of growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ. That sounds simple. But what does it actually look like? What does it mean for the church and for me as an individual? Some would to equate discipleship with religious knowledge, or reading this, or memorizing an reciting that scripture. Others view it as a program at church, a three-week course with a book required reading before attending the session. For still others, they think that God saved them and now they should just go to church and maybe stay away from the really big sins.
None of those explanations are bad, in fact, I would argue the opposite. But to me, discipleship is about taking action. The reality is we will not grow without effort. We will not grow without being intentional about our spiritual growth. The scripture teaches that each person is to not be a passive spectator, but rather to “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12).
Let me give you a few things to think about from one verse, 2 Timothy 2:2 which says: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” Several words in this verse yield significance for discipleship:
“You” indicates the importance of the individual.
“You . . . me” indicates the importance of personal relationships and mutual confidence.
“Commit” suggests transferring something from one person to another; the deposit of a sacred trust. When we invest in the lives of another person, we transfer not only what we know, but what we are.
“Faithful men” …discipleship stands or falls with the importance of these two little words. Proverbs 20:6 teaches that “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” 2 Chronicles 16:9 declares that “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
“Teach others also” Teaching others entails the imparting of a life–the same, in-depth transformation that occurred between Paul and Timothy
A disciple is someone who, with increased intentionality and passing time, has a life and ministry that looks more and more like the life and ministry of Jesus. They increasingly have his heart and character and are able to do the types of things we see Jesus doing.
Making disciples most often happens in the context of a local church. It’s a community project, not just a personal pursuit. And that community is the local church, because Jesus gave the church the authority to preach the gospel, baptize believers into faith and church membership, and teach obedience to Jesus.
We embrace this responsibility and we are going to work very hard to help you follow Jesus by becoming more like Jesus.