John 8:31-32
The word ‘disciple’ is a bit ambiguous today. If you ask a group of people what it means to be a disciple, you’ll get a number of different answers. However, in Jesus’ day, the word was very common in society as a whole. The word disciple was used similar to the way we use the word “apprentice” or “student” and people would have a good idea of what the word meant. They would have seen and heard about rabbis calling students to become their disciples. A disciple was someone who followed a rabbi so that they could be with, become like, and do what their rabbi did.

While we typically think of the word disciple as a religious word, discipleship encompasses far more than religious formation, it’s part of our human journey. John Mark Comer once wrote, “The question isn’t, am I a disciple? The question is, who or what am I a disciple of.” He’s right. There are many who are discipled by Netflix and Youtube. There are many discipled by their favorite celebrities. There are many who are discipled by the culture at large. They are being with, becoming like, and doing the things their “rabbis” are doing.

Listen to what Jesus said when Jesus began calling his followers. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Notice that Jesus gave those who believed in him a challenge – to abide in his word. He wanted them to position their lives before him in such a way that their affections and actions became an outflow of his teaching and truth. He then told them what would happen if they did that consistently – they would become disciples. See, not everyone who believed in Jesus (see 8:30) became disciples of Jesus.

Jesus is giving us the same challenge today. He doesn’t only want us to believe in him, but he wants us to abide in his word to the point where we are spending time with him consistently, becoming like him internally, and then doing what he did. In short, he’s calling us to abide in him so that we become his disciples. And we always become like what we abide in.

One of my favorite authors, Dallas Willard, attempted to put into words how important this invitation from Jesus is. Listen to what he wrote, “The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.” May we, may you, become his disciples – and may we learn how to live the life of the Kingdom in our homes, workplaces, marriages, and friendships. Becoming disciples changes everything and it all begins with abiding.

Pastor Ryan Paulson

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