Many people today profess to be Christians and therefore claim to be disciples of Christ, but what exactly is a disciple and what does true discipleship look like? By definition, a disciple is one who accepts the doctrine or teaching of another and discipleship therefore is the practice of spreading the doctrines of another. But those terms can be rather sterile and mundane. Do these words accurately describe Christian discipleship or is there more to it than what these simple words would suggest? Is discipleship simply telling someone else’s stories or is there an experiential element to it as well?
One thing is certain, true discipleship is not a game. True discipleship is serious and doing it well requires sacrificial devotion. While many people today may think the words disciple and Christian are the same, they are not. One does not have to be a Christian to be a disciple. Throughout history there have been many leaders who inspired sacrificial devotion, pause only for a few minutes to think about it and names like Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Osama bin Laden may come to mind. Each of these madmen inspired followers or disciples who were willing to endure great personal sacrifices on behalf of their leader.
So then, how are disciples of Christ different from the disciples of these madmen? Christ has certainly inspired many to make great personal sacrifices. Apostles, martyrs, missionaries and untold numbers of believers throughout history have given everything they have including their very lives that we may know the Truth, that we may know Jesus Christ Himself. What then makes Christian disciples different than the disciples of the madmen mentioned above? What characterizes and distinguishes true Christian discipleship from the practices of other followers?
We will explore answers to that question over the coming days by examining what Jesus had to say to his followers in Mark chapter eight. But until then, take time to answer the questions for yourself; what is it that you think makes Christian discipleship different?