Before Jesus’s Ascension back into Heaven following His resurrection, He gives His followers what is called “The Great Commission.” In this Commission, He instructs them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This charge from Christ has come to be a trademark passage outlining the crucial role of ministry.
Bethesda Senior Living Communities fosters the spiritual growth of residents in all our communities and encourages studying the Word of God. But what exactly is Jesus asking His followers to do? Read on to learn what it means to make disciples of Christ and what discipleship looks like.
To be a disciple of someone or something is really just another way of saying you are a student of that person, lifestyle or perspective. The people Jesus charged with the Great Commission had a pretty good understanding of what it meant to be His disciples by this point. Most of them had left their old lives behind and spent the past three years wandering Galilee and surrounding areas with Him, absorbing His teachings and witnessing miraculous phenomena right before their very eyes.
The diligent task of discipleship bears the same meaning today as it did to them thousands of years ago. Discipleship is a lifestyle centered around teaching biblical tenets and guiding others towards a more righteous life. One thing common in all discipleship is a deep, intimate relationship with Christ that’s strengthened through daily habits such as prayer, study of God’s Word, worship and service to others.
Discipleship is also almost equally about your relationship with others. Consider these questions:
Hopefully over time as you become more aware of yourself and gain more insight into the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, your attitude and behavior will grow more Christ-like with each passing day. It’s not something done in the course of one night or one year. Romans 12:2 commands that you be “transformed by the constant renewing of your mind.” It’s a lifelong process in which complacency is your worst enemy.
Christian community and fellowship are an absolutely crucial aspect of discipleship. In fact, Hebrews 10:24-25 tell us, “Let us think of new ways to motivate one another to acts of love and goodness. And let us not forget to meet together as some people do, but let us encourage one another.” When you reject opportunities for Christian fellowship and communion, you’re opting out of something Jesus has put in place to assist in your own spiritual maturity — and quite possibly others. Here are some ways you can disciple others for Christ.
Simple church attendance doesn’t automatically equate to discipleship or an intimate relationship with Jesus. True growth requires personal effort, oftentimes efforts that nobody else may see or know about. Make sure you're leaving time for daily prayer, Bible study and reflection on Scripture every day. These are habits you set with the sole motive of adding more depth and wisdom to your understanding of God and His will in your life.
Mentoring new believers is often another essential aspect of deepening your relationship with the Lord (both for the mentor and the new believer). Paul is an excellent example of a mentor. In his New Testament epistle Titus, he discusses his connection to a recent convert of the same name and emphasizes the importance of mentoring relationships in the spiritual growth of both old and new Christians.
While community, fellowship and mentorship are all integral to true discipleship, the very concept of discipleship revolves around spiritual empowerment. For believers, this empowerment comes in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Paul explains it in this way in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16:
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for ‘who has known the mind of the Lord so clearly as to instruct Him?’”
The depth of your relationship with God is not a matter of your own merit or effort. It’s the Holy Spirit dwelling in your heart and resting in your mind that truly lets your discipleship with Jesus grow and flourish. The Spirit alone helps you remain in Jesus so that He may accomplish His work through you.