“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
We exist to explain the gospel and to call people to become disciples of Christ. But what does a disciple look like? If we don’t know what a disciple looks like, how will we know if we are fulfilling our calling to make disciples? Here are two additional traits (the first two traits are found here):
3. A disciple of Christ embraces a “sentness.”
Disciples of Christ are also called to embrace a “sentness.” I’m not talking about the way someone smells (as in scentness), but about the awareness of being sent. In John’s gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Jesus was a “sent one,” and he explained to his followers that they too are “sent ones.” Disciples of Christ are people on a mission, and that mission is to move into people’s lives in order to bear witness to Christ and to serve others in Christ’s name.
I mention this profile marker because from my limited perspective, it seems that too many Christians just don’t like non-Christians very much. We think, “Yeah, they’ve got tattoos on their arms and metal in their nose, and their hair is weird. They wear clothes without belts. They dress different, they look different, they talk different, they act different.” So now it seems like our role is judge them and condemn them and stay as far away from “their type” as we can. But isn’t our lack of a sense of “sentness” uncharacteristic of Jesus?
I’d add as a parenthetical remark that part of the reason we are bored with each other at church is that we just don’t get out very often. We live in the cloistered air of church life and we don’t get out into other people’s lives. Maybe their messiness reminds us too much of our messiness. But Jesus understood that he was sent, and he was characterized as a friend of sinners. You know what’s interesting? He only seemed to have run-ins with the stuffy religious snobs of his day. We all know that because we’ve all read the accounts of Jesus run-ins with the scribes. And yet, would it be appropriate to ask ourselves if we’ve fallen in to a very similar pattern as the religious types of Christ’s own day? Isn’t it amazing that lost people were attracted to Jesus even as they were repulsed by the religious? Isn’t it ironic that most people in our own day seem to have little objection to Jesus (if the polls and surveys are correct), but they have so little interest in the lives of people who claim to be followers of Jesus? Have we forgotten our “sentness?” Have we quit are calling to be sent ones?
4. Disciples of Christ are devoted to being singular seekers of a relationship with God.
Disciples of Christ are called to seek a relationship with God, to cultivate it, to cherish it, to gain our strength and our direction and our focus out of It. Isn’t it interesting that in John’s account, when Jesus began to call disciples to himself, his first commission to them was to “come be with me,” come spend time with me, come hang out with me?
Christ wanted his followers to begin with a singular focus to seek a relationship with him. What was Jesus’ life about? A singular focus of seeking a relationship with his Father in heaven. Now Jesus calls us to have that kind of relationship with him. In John, he says, “If you abide in my words, then you are truly my disciples.” A disciple of Christ is someone who seeks to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. The currency of that relationship is prayer and the Word, but the purpose of those things is to cultivate and reflect a heart that seeks Jesus Christ.