Read: Matthew 28
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
What do real disciples do? Two things actually: They reflect and they replicate.
First of all, authentic disciples become like the Master. They fully devote themselves to his life and they fully obey his teachings. They become like the Jesus in thought, word and deed to the point where his very being is reflected in the essential quality of their being. The Master becomes the sum and substance of their lives. Only by the kind of transformation where the Master is fundamentally reflected from center to circumference in their lives can Christ’s disciples in turn “go and make [other] disciples.” Only then can they teach others to “observe all that [the Master] has commanded.”
That is what it means to be truly Christian. Being truly Christian means being an authentic disciple. One cannot happen without the other—Christianity means discipleship; discipleship means Christianity. Being either is not just in name, it is in the reflection of the Master in the life of the disciple. Calling oneself a disciple is simply wishful thinking without doing the things of discipleship and being in essence the reflection of the Master. Call it what you will, anything less is nothing more than inauthentic discipleship, non-Christianity, a false religion.
Second, authentic disciples replicate the life of the Master through their lives in the lives of others. In other words, they reproduce. Barren discipleship is non-discipleship. True disciples go with the message, bearing the life of the One they reflect and persuading others to follow Jesus.
Disciples don’t just win converts to Christianity, they make other disciples in the way of the Master. To convert a soul to Jesus simply begins the process of discipleship. Conversion is the first step; discipleship is the journey. True conversion begins the journey of authentic discipleship; the convert requires the same full devotion to the Master’s life and the same full obedience to his teaching that took place in the proto-disciple. The Master’s life is replicated in the disciple, who in turn replicates the Master’s life in the convert, who then, in turn, replicates the Master’s life in still others.
That is when discipleship comes full circle and is proven authentic.
Here is the real question in all of this: Are you a true disciple? The answer is easy: If you are reflecting and replicating the life of the Master, you’re in pretty good shape.
If you aren’t, you need to go back and have a serious conversation — should I say, “conversion” — with the Master.
“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
What If God Took Over?
Let me suggests that you offer this prayer if you are serious about being a true disciple of Christ: “Jesus, you said we cannot truly call you Lord unless we do the things you said we should do. With all of my heart, I want to be authentic when I call you Lord. Help me to give you my full devotion and complete obedience. Make me a true disciple.”