In the last post we looked at the “myth of the Super Christian” as a common obstacle which can prohibit us from living all-out for Christ. In this post we will continue that theme, and also get to the heart of the matter: that every Christian is a disciple of Jesus!
John Calvin famously referred to the human heart as an idol factory. He rightly believed that people are wired to worship God, but on account of sin have misdirected their praise in a variety of ways. When someone worships, he or she is placing supreme value on someone or something. By this definition all people are unceasing worshipers. They may worship relationships, their jobs, their children, their own reputations, or the environment. Many Christians will even unknowingly elevate other believers whom they respect or admire. My wife and I went on a double date the other night with some good friends. We listened as the wife explained her life-long tendency to hero-worship a certain family member. She said, “Through counseling I realized how much of a god this person had become to me.” She’s not alone. We can all be given to the tendency of elevating good people to a godlike status. This often takes place unknowingly as our respect and admiration for someone subtly morphs into a kind of false worship. Just as Paul said to the Romans, many people have “worshiped and served the things God created [like people] instead of the Creator himself,” (Romans 1:25). No matter how wonderful, godly, or inspiring another person may be the fact remains that humans make awful gods.
Every Christian a Disciple
While every Christian is designed to fulfill a unique role in God’s redemptive plan, the “call” to live as disciples of Jesus is universal to ALL believers. Each of us is assigned a different task, a measure of faith, specific giftedness, and the matching heart to carry out the good works that God has in store for our lives. But all of this is set against the backdrop of a whole-life commitment to follow Jesus and to come under his transforming influence in our lives. He desires to be Lord of your life just as much as he desires to be Lord of Billy Graham’s life. So much of the New Testament goes into great detail about the reality of our unified discipleship status before God. No one is elevated over another. We are all called to a lifetime of learning Jesus.
Take, for example my friend Clay. He is great at business and honors God by doing his job well. He works hard, seeks to improve his skill set, is ethical, and provides an end product that enhances the lives of others (he sells nutritional supplements). At the same time, his call to become Jesus’ disciple is no different than mine as a pastor. True, I will be judged more strictly on account of being called to teach the Word of God but my obligation to live for Jesus is no more significant than his. He is fulfilling God’s plan for his life in being a disciple of Jesus within the context of running a business, being a loyal husband, father, and friend. What’s your context? In what ways is Jesus asking you to surrender to Him so that you can experience the fullness of life he offers? Consider our Lord’s words:
“If ANY of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 (Emphasis added)
Notice that Jesus isn’t seeking after the religious elite when he makes the invitation to become His follower. He is speaking to masses of people and stating that “if any” of them wants to come to him, he or she must be willing to follow. Christianity is a faith that follows.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a pastor in order to follow! Following Jesus simply requires that you really believe Him, obey Him decisively, and worship Him completely. When people first begin investigating Jesus, he invites them to “come and see” (John 1:39). In this stage they can examine who he is and see what he’s about. But at the next stage of a relationship, Jesus seeks a response that requires a decision. He says, “Follow me” (John 1:43; Mark 1:20; 2:14; Luke 9:59; Matthew 8:22; 19:21). This is the starting point for every believer the moment they surrender to Christ.
- Why do you think the idea of a faith that follows has been lost in the lives of many today?
- Where do you think our tendency of elevating others as “Super Christians” comes from? Examine your own life. Are you inclined to place yourself in a lower tier with others above you? Or is it the opposite? Why?
- How are you specifically tempted to downplay your own responsibility to become one of Jesus’ life-long disciples?
- In your view, do you think we should differentiate between being a Christian and being a disciple? Why or why not?