Last week we showed how Powerful Christians aren’t private, passive or pensive. They don’t rail against all that is wrong with the world, nor are they quiet about what they believe. They aren’t “pew potatoes” that check the proverbial boxes, showing up on Sundays and doing a few “church chores”. They see compassion and evangelism as their personal responsibilities, and don’t leave it to the “professionals.” Powerful Christians recognize that sitting on the sidelines isn’t an option when the consequences facing non-believers are so dire.
Another word for a “Powerful Christian” is a “disciple”. So…what is a modern-day disciple of Jesus Christ?
Different people give different answers: a fully committed follower; a follower who reproduces more followers; a devoted student; an avid adherent. All of those are true to a large extent.
There is (at least) one reliable litmus test…how well do our lives align with the attributes of Jesus?
In other words, are we…
- not able to walk by those hurting and hopeless without helping them?
- brokenhearted for the lost and bold in pursuing them?
- selfless to the point of stepping far outside our comfort zones for Jesus?
- wholly dependent on the Father, living and giving by faith?
- willing to risk and sacrifice everything for the sake of the gospel?
If you examine the lives of most Christians – for example, those who attend your church – do they look a lot like that? How could their lives not be transformed if they truly get who Jesus is and what He did for us? Yet many go to church on Sundays, then look like the rest of the world all week. Many pray in the morning, then essentially forget about God the rest of the day. Too many believers stop short of surrender. They either don’t fully realize what Jesus is like or don’t try hard enough to imitate Him.
Jesus’ Foremost Attribute
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we should take on His greatest attribute – that of a humble servant. In Jesus’ own words, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Jesus consistently modeled and stated (as did His disciples) that caring for the helpless and hopeless was the first step toward proving and living out our faith as Christians. For example:
When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he still lacked after obeying the commandments, Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (Matthew 19:21)
When John’s disciples asked Jesus if He was the Christ, the evidence He provided was how He had served others: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the deal is raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5)
When Paul and Peter went their separate ways, Paul said “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” (Galations 2:10)
James 2:15-16: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is that? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”
Our faith is dead without action? The only flawless religion is caring for orphans and widows?
Jesus showed His compassion first, so people listened to His words. He demonstrated His love before telling people who He is – and many believed. As we said last week, Powerful Christians are those who do likewise – Act and then Speak.
Why aren’t more churches and Christians making service and evangelism to the helpless and hopeless their first priority? How are they not getting that message when the Bible conveys it so clearly? Look at the Facebook pages and websites of the average church in America – it’s all about Sunday services, classes, new campuses and sermons with little or no mention of serving struggling families in the community. Churches are no longer the local food bank or the homeless shelter as they were for the better part of 1900 years.
Your Great Commission
Jesus’ disciples acted like Him. Jesus was loving, selfless and compassionate. As a result, He attracted a large following – and so did they.
Disciples make disciples. Christians who aren’t disciples can’t make disciples.
That’s why Jesus spent most of his time discipling 12 men. Through those first disciples, the Christian faith spread like wildfire.
Nothing has changed. Disciples are still the key to growing the Kingdom and your church.
Discipleship is the means by which Jesus intends for people to come to Him and get to know Him. It’s the most critical function of Christians and His Church. Jesus made that clear in the Great Commission, His final words before His ascension.
Jesus made disciples by serving and teaching. How can you know if you’re a disciple? The same barometer applies to you:
- Living a prayer, care and share lifestyle
- Always looking for opportunities to serve others
- Intentional in forming and building relationships that lead people toward Christ
- Radically changed by what Jesus did for you, and thereby changing those around you
- Possessing an infectious faith, leading to acts of compassion that catch others off guard
- Can’t possibly hold the gospel in – just as you talk about the things you love, you love Jesus most
- Concerned but not worried about where our nation is heading, knowing God is in control
- Realizing that loving action, not just words, is the best weapon to fight the culture war
Is this you?
If not, we encourage you to pray for the courage to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Courage is required because discipleship is:
- Hard Work – Much more time consuming than attending Sunday services or small groups
- Costly – Luke 9 points out how much hardship being a disciple of Jesus entails
- Risky – “Go and make disciples” may take you far from a predictable, secure existence
A Great Next Step…
Consider participating in Vote for Eternity 20:16. We’re asking 1 million Christians to follow Jesus’ model of leading with compassion and then telling people who He is by Election Day, NOVEMBER 8th:
- Perform a simple act of service for someone you know or a perfect stranger in the name of Jesus.
- Share your story on your Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #CastAnEternalVote or #VoteForEternity2016.
- Challenge 3 of your friends on Facebook or Twitter to “pay it forward”.