To be a deliberate disciple you must develop a plan or strategy for spiritual formation and service to God’s Kingdom.
Deliberate discipleship requires a totality of purpose that comes through an abandonment of all other priorities in favor of the Kingdom of God. Thus, the primary characteristic of deliberate discipleship is radical obedience to the teachings of Jesus.
In Luke 9 Jesus encounters three would-be disciples. He tells the first one that being His disciple is not easy or comfortable because this world is not your home: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (vs. 58). Jesus tells the second one that being His disciple takes precedence over every relationship and obligation: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (vs. 60). To the third one Jesus says that deciding to follow Him is a lifetime commitment: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (vs. 62).
Just as these three would-be disciples desired to follow Jesus based upon certain contingencies, we often want to be His disciple alongside all of our other commitments and obligations.
But, being Jesus’ disciple requires a conscious decision and effort to make His will your will, to live your life according to His teachings, and to proclaim the reality of His present and coming Kingdom.
The following chart depicts the prerequisites for spiritual formation according to Jesus’ response to each of these would-be disciples:
THE PREREQUISITES FOR DISCIPLESHIP ACCORDING TO LUKE 9
THE WOULD-BE DISCIPLE PLEDGED:
THE BEHAVIOR JESUS REQUIRED:
THE DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:
|I will follow you wherever you go (vs. 57)||
Foxes have holes and birds have nests but I have no place to lay my head.
|Being a disciple of Jesus is not comfortable because this world is not your home.|
|Before I follow you let me go and bury my father (vs. 59)||Let the dead bury their own dead but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.||Being a disciple of Jesus takes precedence over every other relationship and obligation.|
|Before I follow you let me say goodbye to my family (vs. 61)||No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for Kingdom service.||Being a disciple of Jesus requires the abandonment of all other obligations.|
Just as these three would-be disciples desired to follow Jesus based upon certain conditions, we often want to be His disciple alongside all the other commitments and obligations we wish to hold on to.
But if anyone wishes to become a disciple of Jesus, he or she must choose to give up everything and commit to this new reality of living for the future in the present.
Adapted from The Kingdom Order: Living for the Future in the Present by Steven C. Mills.