While every disciple is a believer, not every believer is necessarily a disciple.
Many may think that the term disciple refers only to the early followers of Christ. We know that they were a praying, worshipping, loving, giving, and evangelizing group of men and women who refused to keep the truth of the gospel to themselves. Yet, God still desires disciples today-½ordinary people like you and me whom God can use to do extraordinary things.Yes, being in leadership is a true meaning of being a disciple.
The Christian experience of the believers in the first-century church may seem radical to many in the church today, but to those early believers, it was normal Christianity. And these men and women empowered and motivated by the Holy Spirit turned their world upside down for the sake of Christ. In short, they were true disciples of Jesus Christ.
Are We True Disciples?
If you are a true disciple, your kingdom walk will be challenging and exciting, and you will have a sense of purpose and direction. But if your Christian kingdom experience can be described as dull, unfulfilling, and even boring at times, you need to seriously examine the statements Jesus made concerning what it means to be a disciple. After all, how can we expect to fulfill the Great Commission (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19) to go into all the world and make disciples if we don't even really know what one is? It literally takes one to make one.
A disciple is defined as a learner, a pupil, one who comes to be taught.
The relationship between the disciple and his teacher is not merely that of a student listening to a lecturer, or a passively interested listener. A disciple listens with attention and intention. He drinks in every word of his teacher, marking every inflection of voice with an intense desire to apply what has been learned.
The Requirements of Discipleship
In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus laid out the tests and requirements of discipleship. Jesus saw a large crowd gathering. He knew that these people believed and accepted His message in principle. Prior to this point, Jesus had shown how the message of the gospel was for everyone. He had exposed the Pharisees as the religious hypocrites that they were. As a result, He had become enormously popular. Now He wanted to weed out those who were following Him for the wrong reasons.
Some wanted to be dazzled by Jesus' miracles, while others came looking for a free meal. A few even hoped that He would overthrow Rome and establish God's kingdom. So Jesus turned to the multitude and preached a sermon that deliberately thinned out the ranks.
Jesus seeks quality over quantity
Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to personal discipleship, He is more interested in quality than quantity. The words He spoke that day are perhaps the most solemn and searching words that ever fell from His lips.
Why would Jesus say such things to all those people who followed Him? It seems that He is intentionally trying to get rid of them. In a sense, He is trying to get rid of at least some of them.
A similar account is found in (Judges 7) There God wanted to give His servant Gideon a victory in battle against the Midianites. But the Lord wanted the glory for the victory. So, through a series of tests, God whittled down Gideon's original army of 32,000 to 300. God knew that He could do more with 300 alert, committed men than He could with 32,000 half-hearted ones.
Three times in the course of this message in (Luke 14), Jesus used the phrase, "cannot be my disciple." In other words, Jesus was laying out some absolute requirements for discipleship.
Requirement #1: Love God More Than Anyone Else
Jesus begins with some very strong words: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26).
Jesus was not advocating that in order to be disciples, we must actually hate family, friends, and ourselves. In this verse, Jesus was using sharp contrasts to make a point. Here He uses the word hate as the opposite of love. He did not choose something easily hated, like sin. Instead, He chose the most noble love we could have in this world the love of family. He uses this analogy to show that our love for God must take pre-eminence over all others.
Your love for God should be so strong that your love for others is like hatred by comparison.
We see how personal relationships can conflict with the call of discipleship in Luke 9. There, Jesus asked someone to follow Him, but the man responds with this excuse: "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." (Luke 9:59)
Right there, a conflict arises. If He is truly Lord, then He is first, not us. This man was essentially saying, "Lord, let me wait until my parents grow old and die. I don't want to create any conflict. I'll follow You at a more convenient time."
Jesus answered: "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60)
In this life, you either will have harmony with people and friction with God, or harmony with God and friction with people. You cannot have it both ways.
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matthew 10:34-35).
You must decide which way it will go. If you choose harmony with God, the conflict you experience with others may ultimately lead to the awareness of their own need to find harmony with God.