Growing as a Disciple of Jesus Christ
We are all called to be disciples of Jesus Christ who live our lives fully for His glory, ordering our priorities around the global mission of Christ no matter where we are called to live or what our vocation might be.
As disciples, we have joined a new order of life—a life of discipline and accountability that can transform us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 12:2). But before we start making disciples, we must be sure that we are disciples of Jesus who are growing in our relationship with God (Colossians 2:6-7). All disciples are meant to live the life that Jesus displayed for them.
So how can we grow as disciples?
1. KNOWING JESUS (John 15:1-4; Philippians 3:10)
Knowing Jesus Christ and making Him known is the responsibility of every disciple, and it must be the top priority in life. Nothing compares to knowing Him as our Savior, Redeemer, and Lord of our life. For the sake of knowing Christ, Paul not only considered everything to be lost—he actually lost all things. Because of his allegiance to Christ, he lost everything he had. He considered any possessions or worldly pleasures as “rubbish” or garbage so that he could gain Christ. Even if Paul knew Christ personally and intimately, it is clear that he wanted to know Him more. (Philippians 3:12-14; John 14)
Mary of Bethany possessed a pint of expensive perfume, but she thought nothing of pouring it on Jesus’ feet as an expression of her love for him (John 12:2-3). She not only released a valuable possession, she did so eagerly in order to embrace something much more valuable—the love of Christ. This great love caused her to express her lavish love in return.
It is the same for those of us who experience the love of Jesus. Even after Jesus died, Mary was the only one at the tomb looking for Him while others were hiding themselves (John 20:11-18). The problem of many of the early New Testament churches and the churches of today is the tendency to pursue principles of living rather than intimacy with Him (Galatians 1:6-10; 3:1-6; Revelation 2:2-5).
Do we know why many people start well and fail to finish well in their faith journey as disciples? The reason is that they started their life by enjoying intimacy with Christ, but later they began to learn principles of morality and they began to rely more on that than on their intimacy with Christ. That is the reason why many people are not finishing well even if they started well. Nothing satisfies the heart like intimacy with Christ.
For I am convinced that neither money nor possessions nor marriage nor health nor success nor recognition nor affirmation nor anything else one might consider valuable is able to be compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
The more we get to know Him, the greater the opportunity for His influencing us. As we grow in knowing Him, we begin to see as God sees.
2. SEEING AS JESUS SEES—FAITH (John 15:5-8; Hebrews 11:1)
We grow in our relationship with God when we are able to see as He sees. Occasionally, it is good to reflect on how God might be looking at people, things, or situations. How does God see this thing I’m so proud of? How does God see my relationship with Him and others? How does God see the way I am doing things? What does God see when He looks at us and others?
One of the most vivid examples of seeing as God sees is found in Isaiah 6:5. When we start to see as He sees, we will not be the same. Whatever is evil before Him will be evil to us as well. It is clear that the more we see ourselves and the world around us the way God sees, the more we see God at work in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
It is very important to learn to see as God sees (1 Samuel 16:7). His view is complete and perfect (Hebrews 4:13; 1 Corinthians 12:15-16; 12:21). When Samuel saw Jesse’s eldest son Eliab, he assumed he would be the one God would anoint as king. But the Lord told Samuel he was not the one. He said, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (Numbers 13:28-33; 2 Kings 6:15-17).
3. DOING WHAT JESUS SAYS—LOVE AND OBEDIENCE (John 15:9-13)
In John 15:12, Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (emphasis added). What does He mean when He says, “As I have loved you?” Simply, it is God’s self-sacrificing love He gives to us. Our love for Christ flows from His love for us because He first loved us and gave His life for us (John 15:13). Jesus told us that we can abide in God’s love if we keep His commandments. We are to live just as Jesus lived.
There is always joy in doing the right thing. Knowing Christ will increase our love for Him. We obey simply because we love Him (John 14:15, 23-24; John 15: 9-10). When God asks us to do something, then we must obey Him; and the more we love Him, the more we want to obey Him; and the more we obey Him, the more we abide in Him and bear more fruit. A servant does what his master orders, but a friend does the will of his friend. We know the will of the Father, and we obey because it is His will.
4. BEING A FRIEND OF JESUS – JOYFUL AND PURPOSE-FILLED (JOHN 15:14-15)
In order to be a good friend of Jesus, we need to learn to know Him and know what He likes and dislikes. Webster defines “friend” as “A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts; one with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.” Webster’s definition also says that a friend is one who holds another in high esteem, respect, and affection. A friend is one whose happiness and prosperity you desire to promote.
The disciples of Jesus were hard to befriend. But Jesus considered them to be friends, and He opened up His life and shared everything He knew with them. The same is true with us. No matter who we are, what we have done or not done, Jesus still calls us “friend.” It is our choice to be the friend of Jesus Christ or the friend of this world (James 4:4). Being a friend of Jesus involves fellowship with Him. Friends like to spend time together; if we want to be a true friend, we must spend time with our friends. Because good friendship requires spending time together and sharing thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams, we must spend time with God through prayer and the study of His Word.
5. MAKING FRIENDS FOR JESUS—ETERNAL FRUITS AND GOD’S FAVOR (John 15:16-17)
Jesus is the best friend that anyone could ever have. He wants to have a personal relationship with all people around the world. He sent us into the world to let others know that they can be His friends. We were sent, not to compete with one another, but to love one another so the world will know Him through our love (John 13:34-35). If we truly have love for each other, have one heart and one attitude, then it is easy for us to bring others to friendship with Jesus.
As disciples, we should realize that we have been sent by Christ as He Himself was sent by His Father to preach the Gospel and make disciples. If we do this in our lives and through our deeds, at the end of our earthly ministries we will say, “We glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave us to do.”
As we get to know Him more, our love for Him increases; as our love for Him increases, our obedience to Him grows; when we obey Him, we are abiding in Him and that will bring forth fruit; when we are bringing forth fruit, we are fulfilling life’s purpose and glorifying God.
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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