Chinese Church Voices

What Is a Disciple?

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.


Recently the mainland-based The Good and Faithful Steward blog published a short post about what it means to be a disciple, reminding readers that being a disciple is more than just taking on the name of Christ (“Christian”), but actually following Christ.

‪What Is a Disciple?

Two thousand years ago, Jesus went to a few people and said, "Come, follow me."

‪Imagine that you were one of those disciples. They were just ordinary people like you and me. They had their own jobs, families, hobbies, and social lives. When Jesus called them they were just going about their ordinary business. None of them imagined his life was about to be turned upside down.

‪The disciples responded to Jesus' call to get up and follow him, but in that moment they did not fully understand into what storms they would be drawn. Whether their hearts were hopeful or filled with doubt, whether they were curious and excited or restless, in any case they were completely unprepared. Everything about Jesus—his teaching, mercy, and wisdom; his life, death, and resurrection; his power, authority, and calling—was about to change every aspect of the disciples' lives.

After only a few years these honest men stood in front of the most powerful officials and radically affected the world (Acts 17:6). In the beginning they only needed to simply listen to the call of Jesus. But, as a result of doing so, their lives were renewed and eventually the entire world would be made new.

What is a disciple?

‪What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? While there is a simple answer, you will find that becoming a disciple of Jesus will radically change your life.

‪The word "disciple" means a student or apprentice. In Jesus' days a disciple would follow a rabbi (a rabbi is a teacher). Wherever the rabbi went, the disciples would go with him.  Whatever the rabbi did, the disciples did also.  They would blindly follow and imitate the rabbi's behavior. Simply put, disciples are followers. To be a disciple of Jesus is very simple: listen to the call of Jesus and follow him.

‪When Jesus called the first disciples they had no idea where Jesus was taking them. They did not know how their lives would be impacted, but they knew what it meant "to follow." They eagerly heeded the call of Jesus. They went wherever Jesus went and they imitated all of his behavior.

A teacher’s disciples are bound to become like him. Jesus said, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). And that is the crux to being a disciple of Jesus: We imitate him, do his work, and gradually we become like him.

Yet, many people believe that a person can call himself or herself a “Christian” but does not need to follow Christ. They believe a person can be a disciple of Jesus without actually following Jesus. How can they get away with saying this? There are many in the church who decide to accept Christ's name, but avoid discussing anything else. It's as if Jesus approached the first disciples and said, "Hey, guys, um, would you mind tagging along with me a bit? Don't worry, it's not like I'll be into your business or like you'll need to change your lives. I'm just looking for a few people who will profess faith in me with their lips and call themselves Christians." Are you kidding me?

No one really believes that this kind of lazy lifestyle is what being a Christian is about. But why then do so many people live like this? We seem to have lost a proper understanding of what following Jesus means. It's not difficult to understand what becoming a disciple means. But becoming a disciple affects our entire lives.

‪Question: Have you always thought of yourself as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Why? Have you seen evidence of faith in your life as described in Luke 6:40?

Original post: 什么是门徒? (The Good and Faithful Steward blog)

ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

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