Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Throughout time, there’s been a special emphasis and even honor for the last words someone speaks. It’s as if the person is saying, “Live out and accomplish in your lifetime, the things I could not.” Some people carry these last words out in such a way that the world remembers the legacy they embody. It’s sad to say this, but many in the body of Christ have forgotten the last words of Jesus and have failed to carry on the Great Commission He gave us.
Jesus’ last words can be found in Matthew 28:18-20. “Go make disciples” was left as the eternal instructions from the heart of God to those who heard it and still hear it to this day. I don’t know if you know this, but Jesus didn’t come to the earth just to be believed in. He came to be followed after! We see it throughout society, many believe Jesus existed, but very few follow His example. My conviction is that we must clarify the difference between a “believer” of Jesus and a “disciple” of Jesus. If we don’t, the world will be just as confused as many in the Church still are.
What is DISCIPLESHIP? Discipleship is the introduction of a new way of life that supersedes someone’s previous way of living. It’s a life long process of dying to self to be transformed and then conformed to the image of Christ. But death to self is the introduction and first step to discipleship. It’s a death sentence so to speak! Please understand that I’m not referring to a physical death, but rather a death to our selfish nature.
That’s why Jesus would say things like, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).” Or He would challenge some like this, “Go and sell all your possessions, give it to the poor, and then come follow me (Matthew 19:21).” This is what makes discipleship difficult and rarely preached in most Churches. No one wants to die to self, because self has replaced living sacrificially like the Savior. Self is the ultimate obstacle to true discipleship. Especially when true discipleship is meant to kill our selfish self, so that we can truly embody the selflessness of Jesus.
Now before you think I’m a masochist, I want you to know that all Biblical discipleship is rooted in God’s love and value for people. We cannot be true disciples of Christ until we know our God-given value. But God’s value system is different from ours. God valuesus based on who we were are. We value ourselves based on what we do. Jesus has placed value on us before we were born (Jeremiah 1:5 & Psalm 139:13). And we seek our value in everything around us, as we live in constant disappointment on how unsatisfying that is.
For some, it might seem like Jesus is being selfish by asking us to deny ourselves, but He’s not. Do you know how I know this? Because selfish people create followers, not disciples. Jesus told His disciples that they would do greater things than Him (John 14:12). He knows your value! Jesus loves you! It’s from that place of understanding your value, that He asks you to lay down your life. Why? Because until you die to your self, you can’t live for Him and serve others the way He would. Jesus knew His value as a Son and learned obedience by the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). When you follow Him as a disciple, your value is secure as a dearly loved son/daughter, not a SLAVE. Praise God!
Would you like an example? Everyone loves the Apostle Paul right? (Read Acts 8:1-3 & Acts 9:1-22) We read his inspiring letters to the early Church, but we often forget he used to persecute and imprison the people who were Jesus’ disciples. But all of that changed, when he had an encounter with Christ. Saul was blinded by the Light, so that he could finally begin to see the Light. Jesus sent a disciple named Ananias to pray for Saul and show him a new way to live. When Saul was baptized, he died to self, so that he could live in Christ as Paul. Hallelujah!
Saul was valuable to God before he was born, but he terrorized instead of evangelized (Galatians 1:15-16). When he was born again, Paul was called to be a true disciple and die to self. He learned many lessons through persecutions, stoning, beatings, imprisonments, accusations, betrayals, starvation, shipwrecks, demonic thorns, false brethren, and death. But even throughout all of that suffering, he made a choice along the way to encourage other disciples to stay strong in their faith. Read this scriptures and be encouraged.
Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:22-24, Philippians 3:8, Romans 6:6-7, Romans 6:11-14, Romans 8:12-13, Romans 12:1-2
Jesus made disciples and we’re called to make disciples. Discipleship ensures a life long process of dying to self. The greatest hinderance to discipleship is the love of self.When you die to self, you can truly live for Christ.