A certain religions leader said, "When I look at the life of Christ, his love, sacrifice, miracles and teachings, I want to follow Him. But when I looked at the life of those who says they are Christians, am discouraged and don´t want to become one". As a result, this religions leader led his 185, 000 people to embrace Hinduism and agnotism. This true story is repeating itself over and over again simply because the church has largely neglected the task of raising true disciples today.
Over a decade and half, I have observed our churches in Africa and world over with keen interest and I have discovered that one major area where we are doing very little is the area of true discipleship. And the results are so glaring in our churches and cities: Many people come to church, only few really know the Lord; we see mighty demonstration of the gifts of the Spirit but little manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit; we have much of Churchianity but less of true Christianity; many cathedrals in our cities but very few true worshippers: we have more of "Supper Room" Christians than "Upper Room" disciples. These are just few of the so many negative influnces that lack of true discipleship has brought on the church today.
DESIRE OF THE LORD The Lord Jesus made it point clear that he is not just looking for anybody, rather he is looking for an army of radicals, people that will be sold out completely to Him and His cause. Luke14:26-27, Matt.10:37-39 "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He is looking for those who will love and obey Him more than anything or anybody else. Anything less than that, his soul abhoes. Lukewarm, spasmodic and compromising professors He detests. He wants those who will be red-hot and firebrand for Him and His kingdom. There is an interesting fact in Acts of Apostles. Five names where used for the people who believed in Him. Brethren was used 4 times: Believers 10 times; Saints 5 times; Christians 2 times, but disciples was used over 40 times. Meaning what? The Lord want his church to be filled with disciples more than anything else. Believers, brethren, saints and Christian are good but disciples are better. Are you his true disciple?
DEFINING DISCIPLES A disciple is a learner and follower of a person, his vision, lifestyle and philosophy of living. With this definition, we can see that discipleship is very clear. Every religion and religious leaders have disciples. John the Baptist has his own disciples and so many religious leaders have raised disciples for themselves. Unfortunately, very many Christians of today are disciples of their Bishops, Apostles, Pastors and denominations and not that of Christ. You are the disciples of the person whom you follow and pattern your life after. Quite sadly, many leaders have consciously and unconsciously raised people to follow them and not the Lord. Well, such leaders will have to find their own heaven for their disciples. Are you raising people to follow you or Jesus?
WHO IS A TRUE DISCIPLE OF THE LORD? Pastors, Bishops and church founders are not called to raise disciples for themselves, but for the Lord. Your calling is to disciple people for the Lord. You must be a disciple of Jesus and raised people through your gifts, preachings, teachings and prayers as true disciples of Jesus. People are to follow you as you follow Jesus. You are to point them to Jesus and build their relationship with Him. True disciples of the Lord consistently and abundantly demonstrate the following characteristics in their daily living: -
(1). ACCEPTS THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST INTO THEIR LIVES: Disciples make Jesus their Lord and obey Him in all things. He is not only their saviour, but also their Lord. He is the Lord of their hearts, thoughts, dressing, mouth, home and work. They live to obey and do His will. John8:31 (Then said Jesus to those jews which believed on him. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
(2). ANSWERS THIS QUESTION IN EVERY SITUATION; WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? A true disciple seeks to answer the question of what would Jesus do, in every situation of life. He seeks to live like Christ and do the will of Christ all the time. He seeks to act and react the way Jesus would do. He seeks to pattern his life after Christ and demonstrate Him in all situations of Christ.
(3). LIVES HOLY, PURE AND UPRIGHT LIFE: A disciple is a true model of integrity, moral uprightness and transparent living. He is free from sin within. Righteousness is his watchword. Titus 2:11-12
(4). KNOWS CHRIST, OBEYS CHRIST, SERVES CHRIST AND SHOWS CHRIST: A true disciple has personal and vibrant relationship with Christ, obeys Christ in every area of his life, serves Christ in Spirit and truth and shows Christ to others through godly living and witnessing. A true disciple is not afraid or ashame to identify with Christ in his life and witnessing for Him.
(5). DAILY CARRY HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW HIM: A true disciple has cross to carry. A cross is a burden, problem, shameful or reproachable situation in your life. It is a test and trial of your faith. It may be open cross or secret cross, yet you must never allow your cross to stop you from daily following Christ if you are truly his disciple. Your cross might be your wife, husband, children, relations, friends, body sickness or a chronic problem. Yet, you must gladly carry it and follow Christ. Luke 14:27 "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple".
(6). USES HIS GIFTS TO GLORIFY GOD AND EDIFY OTHERS: Every true disciple is gifted and they have taken time to discover and use their gifts to benefit humanity and expand God´s kingdom. A true disciple is not selfish or self centered. Rather, he is selfless and ready to serve God anywhere, anytime and anyhow. He wants to multiply his gifts by using them to benefit others and glorify God.
(7). SPENDS HIS TIME, TALENT AND TREASURES FOR CHRIST: A true disciple doesn´t board and withhold his time, talents and treasures from the service of Christ. Rather, he willingly and joyfully spends them in the service of Christ and His kingdom. He is ready to spend and be spent for the work of Christ.
(8). FREE FROM WORLDLY POLLUTIONS: He is separate and distinct in his lifestyle, free from the corruption, evil and pollutions of this world. He lives to please Christ in all things. He denies himself and shuns all the corrupting influence of worldly cares and attainments. Riches, wealth, fame, properties and things of this world have no hold on his heart. He is radically committed to Christ and His word and will on earth.
(9). GOOD MODEL AND EXAMPLE TO OTHERS: True disciples are lights and salts to the world. They know that people watch and follow their footsteps. Disciples are the Bible that people are reading today. They therefore must daily set good examples of godly and righteous living. Matt.5:14-16 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven". True disciples cannot afford to lead others astray by ungodly lifestyles. Rather, they seek to shine as lights through their good works and exemplary living, thereby influencing others for Christ.
(10). DISCIPLINING OTHERS: A true disciple works to disciple others for the Lord. John 15:8 "Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples". A true disciple is fruitful in soul wining and raising others for the Lord. A disciple must disciple others. You must spend time to reach, win and establish others in the Lord. Soul winning and grounding others in the Lord is the chief task of every true disciple of the Lord.
These ten traits of true disciples have shown that large percentages of professed Christians and even pastors of today are not yet true disciples of the Lord. But all hope is not lost. You can start to imbibe and ingrain these qualities into your life and church from now on so that you can become one of the true disciples of the Lord. You can pray and work them into your daily living. Remember, Jesus is not looking for just anybody, but true disciples that are radically committed to Him and His cause in the world. Start to become one today and use your life to raise other disciples for Him and Him only. Because only true disciples will satisfy His heart.