How are you doing as a follower? As a follower of Jesus? Are you making follower of Jesus? Depending on your answer you might be joyful and excited or confused, guilty, and frustrated. There are some misconceptions of what a follower of Jesus is and what the process of becoming more like Jesus really looks like. The following are common misconceptions of what discipleship is:
“I attend church and that’s enough for me.” Following Christ is a relationship. It is a lifestyle within a community. It cannot be tied to a program or church. A lot of followership can happen at church, but most of the time it doesn’t and shouldn’t. Following Christ happens in a community of followers doing life with one another [Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25]. Following never happens alone. If your only following is sitting under your pastor for an hour or two a week that is a poor view of followership.
“I can grow on my own.” Left to ourselves following Christ does not happen–for long [Luke 9:57-62; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16]. I grow by becoming constantly confronted with the gospel of Jesus. Lone Ranger and Tivo Christianity do not cut it. I must be willing to count the cost and commit to be vulnerable within a family of followers.
“I am more mature now; following is for new Christians.” You are never too old to be discipled. Seasoned Christians realize that problems do not go away because they are Christian, they simply realize they are sinners [1 Peter 4:12-13]. Until we leave this planet we will continually struggle with sin and our faith. As a follower of Christ, I am not quite like my Master yet, so there is room for followership.
“I read my Bible.” We must not be content with only reading and knowing more about the God of the Bible. Some Christians are like an overstuffed Chipolte burrito. It is not just what you know, but what you do with what you know [James 1:19-27]. There is a great difference between being a student and a follower.
“I am not responsible to change everything.” Following Christ cannot be compartmentalized or systematized. It is all of me or none of me. Christ wants to be all and in all. Christ wants to be involved with my money, parenting, marriage, singleness, career, resume, fashion, habits and more. Sound intrusive? That is discipleship. It is not behavior modification, rather it is dealing with sin and living like Christ. True followership takes all of Christ’s teaching and applies them to our life.
“I do not have time.” If someone in your family dies you make the time to be with the ones you love. You ask off of work, you reschedule your plans because family matters [Luke 9:57-62]. So it is with your faith and the faith of others around you. Followers understand they have been given a whole new identity, a whole new agenda, a whole new mission, a whole new community, and a whole new life through the gospel. Followers of Christ make the time because it is a relationship with a living God and our faith at times of dying.
“I don’t know enough about the Bible.” Followers are not just theology PhD’s or seminary trained pastors. In Jesus day, they were fishermen, tax collectors and everyday people fired up about what Christ can do in a life. If you have a Bible, if you have one verse memorized or if you are a follower of Christ that is breathing you can disciple [1 Corinthians 11:1]. Sharing the gospel is enough.
“I am worried I will lead other followers astray.” If you stick to the Word of God and teach the truth therein you are not accountable for how others respond to God [2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:1ff]. Speak the truth in love. Even your struggle with sin is a great teacher [Colossians 3:13; Philippians 3:12-13]. Authentic followers attract more followers than they distract.
Following Christ is learning what it means to live your whole life in light of the gospel of Jesus. Living as a follower of Jesus is learning how to live in the reality of this new life you’ve been given through faith in the gospel. Not that it’s easy, or without pain or cost. The joy and excitement of living in light of all that God promises in the gospel outweighs any pain or cost.