Human beings are creatures of eternity. God created people for eternity and eternity is ever present in the life we now live. John, the Apostle said “the world and its desires pass away but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (I John 2:17, NIV). The teachings of Jesus tell us that to live effectively in God’s Kingdom we must allow our hope for an eternal future to impact the way we live our present life. In other words, we must begin to live in the present by the rules of eternity. We do that by becoming a disciple of Jesus.
A disciple is a person who follows another’s teaching—a protégé. A protégé tries to think, act, and behave like his master. So disciples are imitators of their teachers. Disciples try to approximate the behavior and teachings of their master. To be Christ’s disciple, then, is to strive to be like Him and to obey His teachings. A disciple of Christ gives oneself completely to the plan and mission of God’s Kingdom in the same way Jesus did. By so doing, we empty our lives of self-will so that God can fill our lives with resurrection power and joy. Christ is formed in us so that our own will begins to take on the character of God’s will.
To become a disciple of Jesus requires some sort of spiritual formation process. We often use the term, “discipleship,” to refer to spiritual formation. Spiritual formation or discipleship is really about transformation. By following Christ we become transformed spiritually. When we seek after Him and follow Him we learn from Him through the enabling power and presence of His indwelling Spirit. By following Christ as His students we are inwardly transformed so that the personality and behavior of Jesus begin to flow out of our lives—we become like Christ and this Christlikeness becomes embedded in our very being.
Spiritual formation must be intentional and strategic. Thus, we must be deliberate disciples. Deliberate discipleship has an important prerequisite—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. This radical obedience is epitomized in the command of Jesus: “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NIV). Being or becoming perfect is to incorporate ethical behavior—God’s righteousness into your way of life. This righteousness is granted through faith in Christ and followed-up by obedience to His teachings. Thus, true righteousness and perfection comes from God and is a result of knowing Christ and His power to make you like Him. So not only is Jesus our example, He also enables us to be His disciple and follow His teachings by the power of His Spirit, which He gives to His disciples
So the process of becoming perfect is not a matter of self-realization but of Christ-realization. It is a matter of abandoning oneself to God’s rule and reign. The perfection process is not a matter of doing good, but of being like God and allowing the Holy Spirit to shape our character so that our behavior is in conformance with God’s standards. God’s life can express itself only as Divine life and not as human life trying to be godly. When the Holy Spirit transforms your life from within, you will demonstrate the Divine Nature in your life and it won’t be just a matter of exhibiting good human behavior. When we obey the life of God that is in us, we do not have to sin and are enabled to live according to a pattern of behavior that Jesus described and demonstrated. By following Jesus as His disciple, you allow God’s Divine Power through the Holy Spirit to help Himself to your life and you truly become perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.