As I was recently reflecting on the way Christ worked with his closest followers, the Twelve, a thought came to mind: How did Christ primarily develop the Twelve into men who would “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) for the cause of the Gospel? Then I remembered a simple phrase in Mark 8:34, “…follow me.”
This was the centerpiece of how Jesus trained and taught His ragtag crew of men. He called and commanded them to follow Him and they followed. They followed Him everywhere He went. They ate what he ate. They walked where He walked. They slept where He slept. They taught what He taught.
Jesus walked His disciples through streets, towns, and villages full of people who did not recognize Him as the Savior and Messiah. He took them into circles of sick, hurting, needy, crippled, leprous, antagonistic, and even hostile people. To all of these He demonstrated the truth and the infinite love and grace that could change their lives – forever. Then he sent His followers out on the same mission: “as the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you…” (John 20:21)
Ultimately, most of them would even die as He died – for the sake of His name.
Here’s the whole phrase from the mouth of Jesus:
“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
All but one of these men (that’s a pretty good ratio of success, by the way) gave up family, house, and home to follow the Master, no matter the cost – and were faithful to the end. They remained faithful in their “following” and the world will never be the same.
But it all started with relationship. Jesus offered them a path, a journey in His own footsteps. The Twelve disciples did not simply join a curriculum study group – they followed a person, Jesus Christ. Discipleship happens through relationship.
Discipleship Happens Through Relationship
Now certainly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with good curriculum or study groups. They can be useful tools of discipleship. Yet for too long the average evangelical Joe and Jane have relied on curriculum sales or attendance records of classes as proof that discipleship is happening. And yes, I recognize that Jesus Christ is the God-man, not just a mere person like you and I. He was perfect in all that He said and did when He walked this earth. His ability to build disciples and train them through the journey of His life is an amazing thing to behold.
Yet, the point still stands. If Jesus developed the Twelve through hard-core, real-life, accountable relationship, perhaps we should take our cues from the Master Teacher himself….
So, engage the question: how will you and I develop a relationship with one or two or three younger or newer believers and go beyond the arm’s distance of attendance records and formal study groups? How can we develop others so that they exponentially reduplicate the process of discipleship we began with them?
I would love to hear your answers to these questions!
I also highly recommend reading “Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live” (by David Platt and Francis Chan). Click here to purchase it from Amazon and, in turn, partner with us in the overhead costs for www.GraceExposed.org: