Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
As we have been celebrating Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection over the past week we remember the sacrifice Jesus made so that all people may have a friendship with God. During this celebration, we also need to be reminded of Jesus’ life on Earth because Scripture is clear that followers of Jesus are to imitate Him. Philippians 2: 5-8 offers us insight into Jesus’ ministry.
“ 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death–
even death on a cross!”
God’s people had been waiting for a Messiah, one who would come and rule forever. So God sent Jesus down in human form to live a humble life as an example for others by being a servant. His mission was to love God and love others.
If you have spent any time in church or around Christians you are familiar with the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Most people use this to point out how Jesus would act in specific situations (i.e. controlling one’s anger, extending grace, showing mercy). This is a great reminder to shape our actions like Christ, but it takes on another dimension when we apply it to our entire lives instead of specific instances of sin.
What did Jesus do?
Jesus came down from Heaven and developed relationships with people who needed to grow closer to God. Jesus’ life is an example of discipleship.
He prayed for others. He lived life alongside average people (fishermen, priests, widows, orphans, tax collectors, etc.). He ate with them. He walked with them. He closely mentored 12 people. He served outside of the Temple. He met physical needs while addressing spiritual needs. His ministry was an extension of His life, not simply event-based or seeker-friendly.
Jesus’ example followed His teaching. In everything He does one can see His love for God and His love for others. Jesus didn’t show up on one or two Saturday mornings and simply rake someone’s leaves. He spent His earthly life constantly connecting with others by passionately pursing them.
When asking ourselves what Jesus would do in specific scenarios, we shouldn’t overlook the call toward living a life of discipleship. The greatest commandment is to love God (pursue God) and to love others (pursue others). When we examine Jesus’ life, we are faced with a few hard questions. Are we pursuing others or are we passing them by? Is our service for the purpose of developing disciples who follow Jesus?
We must continually look at our life and ask if it is modeled after Jesus because it is not only about us pursuing God but about others growing in Him.
1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”