John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A simple truth: You cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ and not love other people. Some think they can love God but not love people and this couldn’t be further from the truth. God created people and He created them each with a purpose. You are included in that. You are to love those other people.
Jesus never asked His disciples to do anything that He wasn’t willing to do Himself. He commanded that we love, but He also modeled love. He showed love to the scum of society, the outcasts, the poor, the sinners. The people that were rejected by society were loved by Christ. And that’s our example to follow. Loving the unlovely. It’s not easy, but it’s required. And so is loving other believers.
No subject is more talked about, sung about, portrayed in the arts, or philosophized than love. Why? Because God wired us for it. He created us to love and be loved. When we don’t have love, we’re not living the lives He intended for us. This life only works if there’s love. People can only know God if there is love. It’s up to us to show it.
Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered
A disciple obeys God every step of the way on the path laid out for his or her life. God calls each of us to a purpose, but we have a choice to make when it comes to playing the role He has for us. But how do we know what to obey? How do we know that what we’re doing is really what God wants?
We can never truly know God’s will for us and what He would have us to do if we never know Him for who He is. If we’re ignorant of God’s character we may think we’re acting on something He’d have us do, only to contradict His very nature by doing so. Knowing God leads to knowing His will and it becomes that much more clear what to obey.
The Bible isn’t primarily a list of rules to follow and restrictions to keeps us from sinning. Those things are contained within, but God’s Word is first and foremost God’s self-revelation to mankind. He shows us who He is so we can understand what He wants.
Take this into consideration: Jesus, the perfect Son of God, learned obedience through suffering. Yes, Jesus learned obedience. By walking in what God the Father sent Him to do, by suffering as a human, He learned what obedience was all about. Sometimes it’s the same for us. Sometimes we only really know God through experiencing Him in times of struggle. If we abide in Him, He’ll reveal Himself to us and we can walk in obedience by knowing who He is.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
There is supernatural power in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to do a work in the life of a person. Yet sometimes Christians are fearful to share this power, opting instead to water down the Good News into something flowery and completely devoid of its power. How can we do this when we know that one can only be saved through faith in Jesus?
So often we fear what people will think of us. Maybe they’ll disrespect us. Maybe they’ll persecute us or threaten us. In some areas of the world, death may even be a consequence for sharing the Gospel. But on the day of judgement, who will we stand before? Men or God?
We have nothing to fear because the power is on God’s side, not on the world’s side. On that day when we stand to give an account for what we did with our lives, it will be God we face, not the people who intimidated us. So why not share the message that has the power for salvation? Why not proclaim to the entire world how they can know God?
As disciples it’s our calling.
Matthew 25:20-21 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Even if you consider yourself poor, you’ve been given a lot in this life. God has provided you with time, breath, relationships, jobs, education, housing, money, talent, vehicles, luxuries. While all of the above may not be true for you, at least some of these things have been placed in your care. They don’t belong to you, but you have the responsibility to take care of these things and make the best use of them.
Some squander everything they’ve been given, never fully utilizing their resources for the glory of God and the building of His kingdom. But you don’t have to be one of those people. You have a job? Work hard as though working for the Lord and not for man. (Colossians 3:23) You have children? Work hard to train them up in the way they should go and when they’re older they won’t depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) You have money? Make it work for God. (Luke 16:9) Married? Husbands love your wives, (Ephesians 5:25) wives submit to your husbands. (Ephesians 5:22) Most of all, use your time for the things of God. You only have so much of it.
No matter what it is, it belongs to God and it’s only been put in your possession for a time. Make the most of it for the glory of God. Take care of what you have, but don’t worship it. Worship the One who gave it.
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
To serve, or to be served? It’s a choice we all have to make at some point. Naturally, we’re inclined to lean toward being served. Look all around at the culture of this era. Everything is about how much we deserve and how we should get it now. We don’t have to wait for anything and we can be served…even through a little window on the side of the restaurant.
But Jesus came to serve others and He calls us to do the same. Does this sound familiar? You’ve heard it before, but does it resonate? How can you serve someone today? Can you put aside something you want in order to make someone else’s day just a little bit better for the glory of God? When should we serve? How much is enough?
Paul’s letter to the Galatians instructs them never to grow weary in doing good and suggests that at every opportunity to serve one should do so. At every opportunity? This can only be done by someone who isn’t thinking of themselves. This can only be accomplished by someone who puts the needs of others first. By someone who truly loves God and serves Him by serving His people. By a disciple.
Mark 25:44-45 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
It sounds like it should go without saying, but a disciple serves God. Why does this even need to be mentioned? Shouldn’t all Christians by default be servants of God? Well, yes, but the reality is that many who are saved are not servants. Many are more interested in being served than in serving. But that’s not the example Jesus gave us.
Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). If anyone ever deserved to be treated like royalty, never having to lift a finger, it was Jesus. The God Man could have had a throne and a kingdom right here on earth. But instead He spent His time here serving others, even to the point of giving His own life. This is our example, not one of entitlement and expectation, but of humility and hard work.
We may get so caught up in living life that we think we have no time to serve God, but the truth is we can be honoring Him in all that we do, even at work or at school. We can serve any and all people around us, even in simple ways, and this is indirectly serving our Lord. But loving others, we show love to the One who made them. And we point them to Him in the process.
Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
How can a disciple continuously walk the path set before him/her? How can we know what way is right so that we don’t step to the right or to the left of the perfect course God has for us? We’ve been given a navigator, an internal guide to keep us from wandering.
Jesus walked side by side with His disciples while ministering on the earth. They had a perfect picture of what God wanted for them, but even then they were not perfectly walking on the right path. Even with Jesus among them they made a lot of bad choices. But now in our time we don’t even have Him walking among us. If they got it wrong on so many occasions, what hope do we have?
Jesus didn’t go away and leave us alone. For a time He instructed His disciples to wait, but then when they received the Holy Spirit they were filled with power. They had been sent the third person of the Trinity to dwell within each of them. He guides, He comforts, He convicts. A disciple hears God’s voice within and knows it well. When the Spirit speaks, the disciple listens. It’s a way of life.
1 John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
What’s the difference between social interaction with someone and fellowship with them? The answer is spiritual. Fellowship is a spiritual connection between people that goes far beyond the social aspect. God is in the mix.
Those who seek after God’s will and truly want to follow after Christ as His disciples have to have a heart for discipleship. You can’t love God without loving other people. Our true fellowship is with God the Father through His Son because of His sacrificial atonement on the cross. We’d have no way to God the Father if it weren’t for Jesus. And our fellowship with God spills out into our relationships with other people.
Bottom line principle is that lack of fellowship with God equals a lack of true fellowship with people. We have to be spiritually connected to the Lord in order to have any deep interaction with fellow people. We have to put Him first and cultivate our relationship with Him or our other relationships will suffer. Our character, our attitude, our love, all are affected by our fellowship (or lack thereof) with God.
Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
A genuine disciple of Jesus Christ follows His example and walks as closely to Him as possible. When praying, the disciple prays as Jesus would. But how did Jesus pray? What does our example to follow look like?
We all know the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus taught the apostles how to pray, but when Jesus was alone His prayers looked different from those famous lines. When He prayed to the Father, His heartfelt desires were lifted up to heaven. But notice that He doesn’t stop at asking. Jesus, having been sent by the Father to do His perfect will, knew that the Father’s purpose was more important that His own desires. Can we pray like Jesus prayed?
In His greatest hour of pain, during betrayal, fear, and impending death, Jesus was able to put aside His own wishes for those of the Father. Did Jesus really desire for the pain and suffering of the cross to be taken out of the plan? Was He really praying that the very mission for which He had come to earth would be aborted? Or was He showing us how to pray in great times of sorrow? Was He modeling for us what it’s like to give up our own will in submission to the Father’s? This is what it looks like. This is our daily calling as disciples – to give up our own will in exchange for the perfect will of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
What directs the steps of a true follower of Christ? To know God’s will, a disciple must know God. And to know God, the disciple must read His Word. But the way we view the Word has a huge impact on what we get from it.
If we simply view the Bible as stories, suggestions, or even as a rule book, we miss the full impact of God’s self-revelation to us. But if we view it as the very words of God spoken to man, as inerrant, as infallible, as sufficient, we have everything to gain.
God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet, it directs our path. When we seek God in the Scriptures, we find Him there. He speaks to us from the pages, from the Word that’s living and active, hitting us right in the heart with His message. A disciple loves God and so he/she loves God’s Word with a passion. It’s our spiritual nourishment so we should feed on it every single day.