Being a disciple of Christ is awesome because we have the privilege of having an intimate and close relationship with God. Furthermore, we have the prospect of spending eternity with God after this life in Heaven.
The first 12 disciples were Jesus’ closest friends, confidants, partners, and scholars on whom He imparted His knowledge, character, authority, and characteristics. They were chosen and equipped to share the message of Christ and spread the Gospel all over the world. We have that same privilege. We might not all be going to foreign countries or traveling the world, but we still have our spheres of influence or areas of impact where we can make a difference. As disciples, we are all called to be imitators of Christ and lead people to Him.
A disciple is not just someone who learns from Christ and the Word, but someone who applies it to his or her daily life. There are many aspects or qualities of a true disciple of Christ, but it starts with the correct attitude or mindset. It is the mindset or resolute decision that even if …, I will follow Christ and aim to respond to all of life’s challenges the way Jesus did. It is faith and trust over fear. It is a Christ-like attitude which remains a choice.
A disciple does not just talk the talk but walks the walk. It is not just the greatness of experiencing all God promises for His children but choosing to follow and imitate Christ in the dry and barren seasons of our lives.
Jesus defines the application of being a true disciple in Matthew 16.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”
Matthew 16:24 AMP
Taking up one’s cross does not imply that one should bear a burden for the rest of one’s life. Taking up one’s cross in the first century meant that you had to carry the cross on which you would ultimately die an excruciating death while being ridiculed by spectators on the way. Symbolically for us today, it is the knowledge of a road marked with suffering, pain, discomfort in life but keeping our eyes on Christ and eternity. It means following Jesus and His will, even if it may include persecution or death.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”
John 16:33 AMP
True disciples of Christ are followers in the long-run, until eternity and beyond. We are not exempted from suffering and trials here on earth. Discipleship requires the correct attitude, which can only stem from a close relationship with Christ. In our relationship with Christ, we can experience real hope, faith, strength, and endurance through trials, suffering, and hardship. We commit and are devoted to Christ no matter the cost. It WILL cost us, but we gain so much more. Paul said it best.
“For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity].”
Philippians 1:21 AMP
God longs for all people to spend eternity with Him. Where do the lost see or hear The Gospel? Not all people have access to or believe the Bible. We are the witnesses, the living letters portraying the message of Jesus Christ, His love, hope, and grace. We do so through our testimonies, our decisions, actions, responses, and how we treat people. As we imitate Christ, we draw people to Him.
It may be easier to witness when life is great, fruitful, happy, easy, and smooth going. How do you portray your faith and belief in Jesus when life is hard? People look at our character, especially during tough times. Those are the times we should shine brighter because we cannot help but let Christ shine through our weakness and brokenness. He is the only certainty we can cling to and people need to see that. Our actions speak louder than words.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”
2 Corinthians 2:14 AMP
That is the sweet aroma and truth of what it means to be a true disciple. To not give up. To not give in to emotions and earthly challenges, but to look beyond to the Christ of hope Who understands all our sufferings. To react as an imitator of Christ and thus pointing the lost to the One and only God Who is the answer for every problem we will ever face.
You may ask: What is the use of following Christ when we have to endure suffering, pain, loss, and persecution? The world will always have pain and suffering because of sin and man’s free will. The alternative to Christ would mean hopelessness, emptiness, unfulfillment, and loneliness that nothing on earth could ever fill. We can respond differently to life because our God is different. We were saved and empowered by His grace.
Remember that you can make an impact on those around you with the correct attitude. Let’s not be flaky and fall wayward when life gets tough. Let’s not complain or become fearful and negative when we experience trials. Let’s rather make that decision today to follow God in word and deed through every high and low in our lives. Choose trust, joy, patience, endurance, compassion, love, forgiveness, courage, grace, and peace because we serve the Almighty God, Jesus Christ. Let’s be mindful that our testimonies and lives are powerful messages that can draw the hopeless and lost to Christ.
Stay resolute my friend.
VERSE IMAGE OF THE WEEK