Christian or Disciple?
Read: Mark 3:14
For as many people as there are on planet Earth, there are that many definitions for what it means to be a Christian. The first century New Testament believers did not use the term “Christian” to describe their faith in Jesus. Instead, they used the word “disciple.” The word “disciple” means learner or apprentice. The fact that the term “Christian” is used only three times in the New Testament, while the word “disciple” is used two hundred and sixty-nine times, is reason enough to know what a disciple is.
The essence of the way of a disciple is an all-embracing, life-giving relationship with the living Christ. So, being a disciple means much more than going to church, having correct beliefs or following orthodoxy. It’s more than following the teachings and principles of a guru. Mark 3:14 contains two words which sum up the meaning of being a disciple. The words are “with” and “sent.” To be a disciple is to be in a transformational relationship “with” Jesus and to be “sent” by Him. Discipleship includes all the dimensions of a healthy relationship – growing, nurturing, learning, developing intimacy, having common goals and moving in the same direction.
When we are a disciple of Jesus, we enter the life Jesus experiences with God, the Father, through the Spirit. The same two words also describe Jesus’ relationship with the Father, He was both “with” and “sent” by God. The heart of Jesus was to reveal the heart of the Father and to do His will. We are called into the same pursuit, both to know Him by being with Him, and to make Him known by being sent by Him. Like Jesus, we are to live in submission to the Father and complete obedience to His will.
Jesus extends the invitation for us to follow. For some, it’s the first step toward maturity; for others, it’s a challenge to follow at a deeper level. Regardless of our background, there is always a call to be “with” Him and be “sent” by Him.
Are you a Christian or a disciple? There is a difference.