The other day I picked up a copy of Discipleship by A. W. Tozer, hoping to glean some understanding of how discipleship works, how the church can disciple better and how I could disciple others. After reading a few pages, it was apparent that it wouldn’t answer any of my questions. Instead, it described to me what a life of surrender to Christ looks like – ultimately reframing to me that I am a disciple of Christ.
In the book Tozer writes “If Jesus is not Lord of all of us, we are not real Disciples”. I agree with him and I want to be a real disciple – so the question is how do we know if Jesus is Lord of all? In this blog post I pull out a few thoughts from the book.
In John 14:21 Jesus says “The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him”.
Yes! I also want to high five someone when I read that! Jesus will love us and will reveal Himself in us. Yet at the same time I know I desperately struggle at times, to keep the commandments and love Christ. It’s interesting to note how to ‘keep’ and to ‘love’ is not passive – it requires a lot of effort and determination from our side. This hints at an interesting dynamic in the Christian faith because we often allow ‘being saved’ to sound like the climatic achievement of our lives, but in reality, the Bible paints it as the climatic start to our actual lives. For there are things for us to do once we are saved, whether it is internal or external.
The Bible shows us that being a disciple of Christ is not passive either. In John 8:31 – 32, Jesus says to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Again, high fives all around! Yes, I too want to be His disciple and know the Truth and to be set free – but – it seems that in order to do this I have to continue in the Word? Let’s be honest, some of us don’t even read the Word. And for those that do, what does it mean to continue in the Word? Well, you have to apply the moral truth of the Word in your life. Actively living it out, not just knowing it in your head, allowing the Word of God to inform your day-to-day decisions and actions. One example of applying moral truth is found in 1 Peter 1:14 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance”.
This highlights another non passive element of discipleship – obedience to Christ. Tozer states that “true obedience is one of the toughest requirements of the Christian life. Apart from obedience, there can be no salvation, for salvation without obedience is a self-contradictory impossibility. The essence of sin is rebellion against divine authority”. To make sure this picture is clear, I will simplify it, if you aren’t in obedience to Christ the result is rebellion against Him.
I’d like to leave you with one final thought. Paul writes “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” I am sure we have both told many people we are Christian, but can we actually tell them that we died with Christ, that we no longer live and that who they see before them is the likeness of Christ?
By Josh Wallen