Discipleship demands taking the words of inspiration and making them your life now so that you might have life forever. The Master says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). We tend to identify ourselves by our fleshly bodies. People know who we are because they recognize our faces. But Jesus here offers a deeper understanding of our identity. We must see ourselves as spiritual beings in order to become disciples, beginning with seeing life itself in light of the spirit rather than the flesh.
As such, a disciple will care less about feeding his stomach than about feeding his soul, saying gladly with the psalmist, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11). He will think deeply about the Word of God to fuel and animate His life (Ps. 119:97). Thus, discipleship actively incorporates the divine message into personal behavior. “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Th. 2:13).
Discipleship demands having real faith—a complete trust in what Jesus has said, what Jesus has done, and what Jesus wants us to do. Jesus told the people, “’But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (Jn. 6:64). He would later offer a universal statement, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Within this simple exhortation lies a foundation that many fail to understand and appreciate. Faith does not attempt to convert Jesus to our ideas; faith embraces His. As Paul would later ask, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). The faith of a disciple should extend to everything in the gospel or it does not really trust the Author of the gospel. Unless we accept the measurements guided by the chief cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:6-7), we remain unprepared for and miss the essence of discipleship, living to draw attention to our Lord by submitting to His will (Col. 3:17).
Such faith—committed, unswerving, and loyal—is essential to trust Jesus no matter what anyone else may say about us or do against us. The extent of faith therefore does not always reveal itself until tested, and discipleship should ever move forward in preparation for such a test. “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
This is an excerpt from Kevin’s new book, Follow Me: A Call to Authentic Discipleship. You can order this book or others Kevin has written from Hopkins Publishing, though Amazon.com, or with your favorite ebook reader.