People work better and accomplish more when they know what they’re aiming for. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit nothing. That’s true in many aspects of life. It’s frequently said that discipleship is a lifelong process – correct! But all too often nothing much is said of its goals. Disciples often underachieve because they’re left not knowing what they’re aiming for.
Biblical discipleship has three goals:
I believe it’s not only important for leaders to understand and vigorously pursue all 3 goals, but also to teach them and encourage those to whom they minister to follow their example. Over the next 3 editions I want to explore each goal.
Becoming like Yahshua, to be as He is, to do as He does is the quintessential purpose of the disciple. This is the very reason we’ve been called (Romans 8:29). Oh boy! Isn’t it what we all crave? Just imagine what our communities would be like if we all lived out Paul’s experience, “The life I now live is not my life, but the life which Messiah lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Our aim is not merely to learn about the Master, becoming an expert on Him, but as Juan Carlos Ortiz puts it, “to live the life He lives”. How do you go about becoming like Yahshua? Where do you start? In the first century world disciples took on the likeness of their master by doing 3 things:
The first thing you need to do is to find out all you can about the Master: His purpose, work, teaching, values, character, and desires. The Scriptures are fertile ground to learn all these things and more about Him. So, part of the process of becoming like Yahshua is to study Him. As a leader it’s essential that you make time to delve into the life and ministry of Yahshua. Not just from the Gospels but the whole Bible. You cannot teach others about Him if you, yourself, have not studied Him and know Him.
To learn from someone, to get to know what they know in order to be like them, I guess you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with them. A brief look at how Yahshua worked with His disciples when He walked this planet shows that they were with Him for the biggest part of their day. There were times when they had periods of intense fellowship and learning; other times they just relaxed and did mundane things together. They had a compulsion to be with Him, and they went with Him everywhere! Are you compelled to be with Him? The 21st century disciple is no different from Yahshua’s early followers. The Master expects you to spend time being with Him! He isn’t with you in the flesh but certainly in spirit (He said He would always be with us – Matthew 28:20). This means He can go with you wherever you go. So, in a very practical way when you’re walking down the street in your town He is with you, walking beside you. When you’re shopping at the supermarket, He’s there with you which means you can converse with Him about any and every matter or situation you find yourself in. We must be acutely aware of this reality. It’s part of learning from Him, to being as He is, and it’s something we must practice. With our knowledge of the Master’s character and nature we can know how He would react in certain situations in the normal run of life.
Becoming like Yahshua requires you to come into a close and personal relationship with Him. Of course we know this, but how many of us engage Him in a relationship as we would our spouse – to get to know the person deeply. Remember this is the one who said, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life” (Luke 14:26 NLT). He wants to have consistent, intimate and intense quality time with you. He wants total devotion! When you’re in a longstanding relationship with someone you get so tight with them that you know what pleases them; you get to know what they want before they ask. Yahshua places a lot of value on disciples relating to Him deeply – getting to really know Him and He them. It is from this base that our activities as disciples should spring. Here’s what the Master says, “Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22-23 NIV).
As we consistently practise these things we’ll find that gradually we take on our Master’s likeness. The Holy Spirit helps us throughout this process.
Dear Father, I so much want to be like Yahshua. I know this doesn’t happen automatically. I need to draw near to Him, to stay with Him in order to learn of Him and from Him. Father, help me to consistently have protracted times of fellowship with Him; to be conscious that He’s beside me wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. May my life fully reflect Him and enable me to teach others to do the same.