We think about or have heard a lot about what a good teacher, or a good pastor or elder should look like. We all know that when spiritually mature we are all to go make disciples. But do we think about what it looks like to be a good disciple today, regardless of our maturity? You say, “I am in a leadership role; I am working to make disciples”, but are you a good disciple? Who is mentoring you today? Are you teachable? And what does a good disciple look like?
Excluding Judas, were the other 11 disciples of Jesus good disciples? In many cases we mainly focus on their failures (lack of understanding, dumb questions, expressed doubt, demonstrated lack of faith, focus on the physical) prior to Christ’s ascension to heaven, but the Truth is, they really were very good disciples. What were their characteristics that made them so good?
- They were ardent seekers.
- They were consistent followers
- They were rapidly growing spiritually
- They were breaking away from ‘religion’
Do ALL of these characteristics describe you and me?
Jesus chose each of His disciples (John 15:16) and He chose disciples that were seeking Him (John 14:1). These disciples were looking for the Messiah and when they found Jesus, they dropped what they were doing and followed Him. Many others were called to follow Jesus, but for a multitude of reasons, they would not follow Him. Some couldn’t leave their possessions (Matthew 10:27). Some couldn’t leave their families (Luke 9:59-61). Others simply ignored the call and went about their own business (Matthew 22:5). But the disciples followed Jesus. While others said, “But first let me” do this or that, the disciples followed Jesus immediately.
And they were absolutely trying to learn from Jesus. In fact, they stayed in a state of wonderment, with a subsequent constant line of questions (kind of like a young child, right?). And Jesus answered their questions. Sometimes they asked the question out loud directly to Jesus, and sometimes Jesus was simply ‘aware’ of the questions before they asked Him (Matthew 16:8), and He answered them quickly, almost immediately, while the question was on their mind.
Are you and I continuously seeking Jesus? Are we asking questions and staying in the Word? If so, the questions of our growing spirit will form in our mind and the Holy Spirit will answer. John 16:12-13 says, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.” When we are ‘in Christ’ (surrendered to Him and acting in His will) and walking in the Spirit, the Spirit will often answer our questions before we have even put the question to words and spoken it out loud; very similar to walking with Jesus back in the day.
Are you spending time with Jesus and growing? The disciples spent time with Jesus. They traveled around with Jesus. They ate meals with Jesus. They heard Jesus’s words, a lot, and they were rapidly growing spiritually. Are you having supper with Jesus (Revelations 3:20) and taking your lessons from Jesus (John 14:23)? Sunday pot-luck at church is good, and the fellowship of Wednesday supper is good, but are you spending time with and taking your lessons from Jesus through His Spirit?
The disciples had been raised under a Pharisee, Sadducee, and Scribe system that absolutely worked hard to control the ‘religious’ methods of the day. The goal of that system was not truth and grace and pursuit of God, but rather pomp and circumstance and methodologies and priest-controlled worship, knowledge, and forgiveness. These leaders had created systems of men to replace the free-flow of God’s spirit and grace. They had created a huge religious ‘box’. Are you in any box today? Is there any system of ‘religion’ that controls the flow of God’s word (flow from God to you and from you to God) and spirit (the growth of your spirit facilitated by the Holy Spirit) to you and subsequently your family, even to your children’s children, or to any in your circle of influence? Disciples of Jesus, yesterday and today, will not be boxed, and constrained from knowing Jesus. Rather, they will pursue Him directly, through the written word and the living Spirit, and they will worship Him corporately in systems that put Christ first and man second. Un-boxed and direct we seek Him, and He answers us directly and quickly and we grow in an ongoing manner.
Are we good disciples? Seeking daily? Following regardless of cost or excuse? Growing rapidly in the knowledge of Jesus and His kingdom? And breaking from ‘religion’ and choosing Jesus, both personally and corporately? If not, what hinders us? In Luke 9:62, Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’ Let’s continue to be about His business, seeking, following, and growing. Whatever ‘good’ thing, or bad thing that hinders us, let’s cut it loose as we continue to pursue great discipleship of Christ today.