Summary: Third message in a series about the five purposes of the church. This message is a call for believers to become disciples.
Developing a Passion for Becoming
January 30, 2005
We’ve been talking these last few weeks about developing a passion for the things of God. Two weeks ago we talked about developing a passion for honoring God. Last week we talked about developing a passion for the family of God - treating each other as we would in our biological families and inviting others to become members of the family.
Today we’re going to look at developing a passion for becoming like Christ. The book of Romans says that one of God’s purposes in life is to make us more like Jesus - to be conformed to his image.
God uses lots of ways to do this. He uses his word, the Bible. He uses people in our lives. He uses church. He uses prayer. He uses circumstances, both good and bad.
It’s a process, and it’s a life-long one. The process of becoming "Christ-like" is called discipleship.
Before I go on to the definition of a disciple, let me clear up a possible misunderstanding about what a disciple is.
Many people consider the 12 friends of Jesus to be "the disciples." But it’s more accurate to describe them as "apostles," which means "sent out." In Matthew 9 Jesus called these twelve men out of all the followers of Jesus, and appointed them to carry on his ministry.
So while they were disciples, they were not the only ones. The gospels mention many other disciples. The twelve apostles were what many consider the twelve disciples. And of course the danger in that is that people then think that there are no longer disciples of Jesus, which is not true at all.
What is a "disciple?"
Definition - (Vine’s): "mathetes" - literally, a learner - indicating thought accompanied by endeavor. A disciple was not only a pupil but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.
Let give you what I think is a distinction between a believer and a disciple:
A believer has placed their faith in Christ, but hasn’t gone much farther than that initial decision to believe in Him, either because the resources weren’t offered or available, or because they are not interested. A disciple is not satisfied with just being a believer - they want to go to another level in their relationship with God.
So let me give you my definition of a Biblical disciple of Jesus:
A follower of Christ who lives in daily submission to Christ, with the goal of becoming an accurate reflection of Christ.
You see, a disciple says I want more - more of God, more of His service, more of His kingdom.
My hope today is that you will want more. That if you could not characterize yourself as a disciple, then you’ll want to do something about it. And that if you could characterize yourself as a disciple, that you also would want more of Jesus.
Let’s look first at...
What characterizes a disciple?
Three characteristics of a disciple: First, a disciple...
1. Finds his or her identity in Christ.
In John chapter 9 we find the episode where Jesus heals a man blind from birth. The religious leaders interrogate him to no end.
They kept badgering him about Jesus, and all he could do was say, "Look, all I know is that I was blind, now I see, and that Jesus guy did it. Why do you keep asking me about him - do you want to be his disciple?"
Well, they just freak out and they respond as we see in verse 28:
Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!"
This man was already identified with Christ, and all he had done was receive what Jesus had for him.
In the book of Acts, Peter and Paul dared to heal someone in the name of Jesus. They were arrested, and we find in 4:13 -
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Did you catch that? How were they described? As guys who had been with Jesus.
Think about how others probably talk about you when you’re not around. Do they talk positively? What do you think they say?
One of the things I hope people would say about me is that if nothing else, he loves Jesus. That even with his imperfections, at least we can say that his love for Christ is what drives him, and it affects everything he does.
What about you? Is your reputation more about you what you have accomplished for good or bad, or is your reputation based at least in part on your love for Jesus?