Though discipleship has been a topic of interest to Christians for many centuries, for the first followers of Jesus, discipleship was so much more than just that. For them, discipleship was the experience of following the Lord Jesus. At its core, discipleship was a relationship, one that was transforming, liberating, and empowering. And, as it was for them, so it must be for us.
A disciple is a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour, committed himself or herself to a growing relationship with God, and by the Holy Spirit is integrating the Lord Jesus into every area of daily life. Disciples are committed to being responsible members of the church through active and consistent participation in mission and they are moved by the internal motivation of God’s Spirit.
Discipleship can be viewed from varying perspective. First it can be examined with respect to the historical situation in which the Master and His disciples interacted. Second, it can be judged from the viewpoint of the nature of the Christian life. In order for us to grasp the character and meaning of Christian discipleship, both these approaches must be captured.
The theme Christian Discipleship implies a discipleship different from others. Though the first century had many disciples - gathering teachers who were revered and who’s styles of instruction were venerated – Christian discipleship speaks to a specific mode of discipleship. Because a Christian is an imitator of Jesus, and because a disciple is a follower, Christian discipleship is then, the kind of discipleship that involves following even imitating Jesus.
Discipleship can also be viewed from two different levels: 1) that of the first disciples of Jesus and 2) that of His subsequent ones. When one thinks of discipleship as it relates to Jesus and His followers, several questions arise. What must it have been like to have Jesus call, teach and train you for discipleship? What must it have been like to watch Jesus in action and to learn from His example?
On the other hand, and in some ways more relevant to us now, what does discipleship entail for Christians living so many centuries removed from the time when Jesus lived and taught? What does discipleship entail for Christ’s disciples in the 21st century? What does discipleship involve for people who live in a society radically different from where Jesus and His first disciples lived?
Discipleship – the experience between Jesus and those He called to apprenticeship with Him.
Source: Adult Bible Study Guide (Seventh-Day Adventist Church) Jan. Feb. Mar. 2008.