A disciple is a follower. An adherent to a set of teachings.
To be a disciple of Jesus is the greatest thing that you could possibly be here on earth. The benefit and reward stretch out for all eternity. If you believe in Jesus, believe He died for you, believe that His grace is over your life, you should experience a thankfulness and a love for Him that compels you to live for Him alone. To become His disciple and to learn from Him.
Jesus charted the course
While He lived here on this earth Jesus experienced life exactly as we know it. He experienced every inch of the rocky terrain that is human nature – aka the flesh – and He charted a course through it. He didn’t avoid the pitfalls that are the lusts and desires of the flesh. Rather, He paved the way right through them, in order to be completely finished with them. And in His teachings, Jesus left us the map – He left us a way to follow that goes through the flesh and into eternal life with Him.
It is a radical life. A life of zero tolerance for sin. That is the attitude that Jesus had towards sin, and as His students we are required to have the same. It is not a life that you put on and off as it suits, but a life of devotion and zeal. We are to be the most zealous and dedicated students of this subject. When we are finished our studies, we are to be masters ourselves. It is a lifelong education, but what we learn along the way is immediately useful and beneficial to us. We don’t have to wait until we are perfected to be able to use what we learn. We use it as we learn it, and it enriches our lives and blesses us more than we could comprehend.
It is a radical life. A life of zero tolerance for sin.
Tests that prove us
There are also tests that we have to face when we are enrolled in this course. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7. Our faith must be tested to prove that it is genuine. God needs to see that we are serious about being a disciple. That we are willing to stand faithful regardless of the opposition that may come because of it. But it is worth fighting for. And then we experience it as Peter describes it later in the same letter.
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10.
Some disciples are also called to be apostles. Apostles are those who have the specific task of carrying the message out to the ends of the earth. All apostles are disciples. However, not every disciple is called to be an apostle. Many are called to different ministries. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Our faith must be tested to prove that it is genuine. God needs to see that we are serious about being a disciple.
Not for our own honor
When we live the life of a disciple we have the same testimony as Paul had when he said to the Corinthians, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. We become the salt of the earth, the light of Christ among men. We glorify the Father and the Son by our lives, and all honor goes to them for what they are able to do in a human being who started out as a wretch. This is the very least that we can do for our beloved Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us. To be a Christian means that we love Christ and keep His commandments. We love Him because He first loved us, and for that we owe Him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
“To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” 1 Peter 5:11.