Many misunderstand church attendance for discipleship, thinking that if they come to church on a regular basis or every now and again, they are a disciple. Or they mistake their families church attendance for them being a disciple, they are in by connection. Some believe being connected to a social justice cause makes them a disciple. Still others believe discipleship is only for the super spiritual. Or that it is a program that we go through for a matter of weeks or months. There are many ways in which we can misunderstand discipleship.
In my last two posts (Part 1 / Part 2) I sought to clear up any misunderstandings we might have. In this last post, we look at the final characteristic of a disciple.
What is a disciple?
(3) A disciple is a learner of Jesus
Look at the beginning of verse 29. Jesus says,
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,”Mt 11:29a
Here we see that we are to submit to Jesus’ authority so that we can learn from Him.
There is a reason we live with Jesus as the King of our life. It is not because Jesus is on a power trip. Remember, He is gentle and lowly. Instead, we submit to Jesus as our authority so that we can learn a new way of life from Him. He is more than willing to teach us, so that we might find joy as we live as Kingdom citizens.
A whole new way of life in Jesus
In this way, we can say that when we come to Jesus, a whole new way of life opens up to us. A way of life that was closed to us before. That is because we were living in rebellion to Him. As rebels, we didn’t want Jesus’ way of life. We thought we knew what was good and right.
But as those who are committed to following Jesus we should have repented of our rebellion. Our hearts should have been changed. We should desire a new way of life. One that Jesus provides.
Discipleship is learnership
Not only does Jesus call us to come to and learn from Him in these verses, but when we look at the term disciple, we discover it means a person who learns from another by instruction. Learning is at the core of what it means to be a disciple. As a result, we can say that discipleship is learnership.
Disciples are the who are constantly seeking to learn Jesus, to learn what it means to think and act like Jesus.
Discipleship is not just for the academy
Discipleship as learnership doesn’t mean it is full on academic. We certainly need to gain knowledge, but discipleship is not just for knowledge sake. Discipleship involves us learning to live and think like Jesus so that we change the way that we live and think about life. It involves us stepping into a new way of doing life. One that should result in us valuing what Jesus values. Acting like Jesus acts. In other words, learning Jesus should result in us imitating Jesus. In Luke 6:40, we read:
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Lk 6:40)
Imitating Jesus is what we are after. We should not only desire to become more like Jesus, but as we continue in the Christian life, we should see ourselves becoming more like Jesus.
You have to have the desire
In order to become more like Jesus, we must desire to be more like Jesus. For some of you, you have never become more like Jesus because the desire is not there. You are connected to the church, but only for the benefit it affords you in your personal life, not because you see it as a means to become more like Jesus. If we are going to make progress in the Christian life, if we are going to be a disciple, we have to start by realizing that a disciple is a learner of Jesus.
If you haven’t come to Jesus because you want to learn to think and live like Him, then you are not a disciple of Jesus.
Discipleship is not an overnight endeavor
To be sure learning Jesus doesn’t happen overnight. We don’t come to faith in Christ one day and are immediately like Jesus the next. It takes a lifetime for us to become more like Jesus.
While it takes time, the key to becoming more like Jesus is knowing that is what it means to be a disciple. Disciples follow Jesus into a whole new way of life. A way of life Jesus opens up for us.
Look at your life:
- Are you more like Jesus today than when you first came to faith?
- Do you find yourself thinking different?
- Acting different?
- Do you love God’s Word, reading it often?
- Do you love God’s people, gathering together in a group to study and apply God’s Word?
- Do you desire to know more about God’s character, seeking to understand some basic theological concepts?
- Are you self-sacrificial, giving of yourself and your resources?
- Are you missional, seeking to build relationships with your neighbors so you can talk with them about Jesus?
- Are you ministry oriented, serving regularly in the local church?
These are all activities that characterize Jesus in one way or another. They are activities that should characterize us as well as we seek to learn Jesus.
As we move forward into this New Year, it is my hope that you will not only rest in Jesus, recognizing that He is the only One who can restore your relationship with the Father, that you will submit your life to Jesus, recognizing He is your King, but that you will also learn Jesus by becoming more like Him, thinking, acting, and caring about the things He cares about.
If we are going to see growth as a church and reach the community in which we have been planted, we must be people who are learning Jesus. Not so that we can fill our heads with knowledge, but so that we live differently.
Want to keep learning?
Watch the sermon this post is based on.