Discipleship Is About More Than Me

Written by Carl Greene

May 29, 2024

“Practices such as reading Scripture and praying are important — not because they prove how spiritual we are — but because God can use them to lead us into life.” (John Ortberg) Taking this quote a step further, following Jesus is about more than finding a better life, it is about living an abundant life in community.

Defining Discipleship

The word “disciple” literally means “learner.”[1] More specifically, disciples are learners who heed Jesus’ call to “follow me” (Matt. 4:19, 21; 9:9; John 1:43; 21:19). Putting this together, discipleship can be described as “the practice of following Jesus by learning, trusting, and obeying his Word.” (Quina Aragon).

Yet, we can make this far too individualistic. We get focused on only what “I do” in contrast to the Jesus following that “we do” together. Let’s think about Peter.

Peter

After the Lord’s Supper with the disciples, Jesus declared that one of them would betray Him (Luke 22:21-22). The disciples quickly went from agonizing over who might betray Him to who among them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). That in and of itself is a fascinating conversation twist.

The conversation rollercoaster continues–Jesus sets up a fascinating exchange. He states, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials . . .” (Luke 22:28) This statement is the precursor to His arrest and what He knows will be a subsequent desertion of the disciples. The same statement is also the frame for Jesus foretelling Peter’s denial of even being a follower.

Within this crazy fast exchange of details, Jesus makes it clear that Peter will not ultimately fail. Jesus provides Peter with a long arc view about the discipleship journey that Peter will stumble through. The key reminder Jesus provides is, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32) Peter’s discipleship journey is not just about finding his own way—it is encouraging his brother along with his own wayfinding.

Us

We are called to be disciples, followers of Jesus. Yet, it is not just about me. It is not just about you. It is about us, encouraging one another amidst our stumbles, our joys, our sorrows, and our struggles. Discipleship is about learning, trusting, and obeying together, for God’s glory. The beauty of the church is following Jesus together. Not as an extra-credit endeavor for when we have surplus time, but as a blessing of following Jesus to experience abundant life in the present. May we strengthen one another well, as we turn again and encourage.

[1] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

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