A simple look at disciple.

A disciple is a follower. That part is simple. A disciple of Jesus would be a follower of Jesus. That’s pretty simple, too. Except for the challenge of following someone who is invisible. And someone whose name has been used pretty freely to endorse all kinds of products and projects and programs.

IMG_1623.JPGWhen Jesus was leaving, he gave his disciples a simple assignment: go and make disciples of all nations. He attaches two actions to that project: 1) “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” and 2) “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded.”

At least one of my friends is going to ask me about the baptism part. At the start, that was pretty simple. Baptism was a visible action to illustrate the belief that was happening on the inside of the head and heart.

In the same way that people go through initiations or buy a bumper sticker or make a downpayment or buy an engagement ring.

I’ve intentionally used a variety of actions that people do to show their commitment. A decal is very different from an engagement ring. But displaying a “magenta team” sticker on your car when you pull into the parking lot for a family reunion where everyone supports the “chartreuse team”  can be just as costly as the ring. More so, perhaps.

Baptism, a very simple action, externalizes belief.

The other part that Jesus identifies is teaching people, disciples, to obey everything that Jesus commanded. So being a disciple is learning to obey everything that Jesus commanded. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “teach them everything I’ve commanded”. That would be easy. That’s a series of lectures. But as parents of preschoolers could tell you, teaching someone to obey means that you have to obey, too.


First published in 2012. and I wrote about this before: I get to say that and How to make a disciple.