With the emphasis on the essentials of spiritual health here at The Essential Faith Project, it is easy to make the mistake that we believe discipleship is a mechanical—even legalistic—process. All you have to do in order to dispel this belief is pay attention to the first of the essentials: Worship—and particularly the emphasis on individual worship.
That said, it is important to understand the relational aspect of discipleship—not relationships with other Christians (one of the essentials), but the relationship between a disciple and Jesus.
Jesus described this relationship using a botanical figure of speech. He referred to himself as a vine (in a part of the world where olives and grapes are produced, this was a meaningful reference!), with various branches. We are the branches. Jesus said that we are to “abide” (the English word usually used) in Him.
The problem is few of us know what that word means. It is one of those “church words” we never use outside the church because it is antiquated English. So, what does “abide” mean? The Greek word is “meno”, to live or dwell, endure or remain. It stands in contrast to the temporary living arrangement of someone traveling through. The idea is to be rooted in something, or as I heard in a sermon tonight, to belong with. The branch belongs with the vine. If it is separated it not only has problems, it dies.
Discipleship grows out of our relationship with Jesus. We are rooted in Him, we draw strength from Him—we belong with Him!
With the isolation and division, Americans are experiencing today, this is an important point. We don’t belong with others in the world. We belong with Jesus. We live with, remain with, are rooted in Jesus. If we don’t belong to Him—if we belong elsewhere or with others instead—we cannot be His disciples.
Discipleship isn’t mechanical or legalistic. It is relational. It is about our relationship with Jesus!
Relationships require many things to thrive. Perhaps most important among these are two factors: commitment and communication. Our commitment to Jesus must be absolute because without Him we die. Our communication with Him must be continual so that we literally share (have in common) different aspects of our lives.
Disciples belong with Jesus. We cannot survive without Him!
Know Jesus and Be Faithful!