A Portrait of A Disciple of Jesus
As Christians, we’ve all studied Jesus’ life and teachings to better understand what is required of us. Every day we try to check our thoughts and actions to catch our sins as they pop up. We believe that if we can get through the day without indulging in a sin, then we're doing good.
But are we missing the point of what it means to be a servant of Jesus Christ?
When you are focusing on what you might be doing wrong...you are ignoring what it is that you should be DOING.
Though we may be good at holding in our anger or abstaining from bad language, how many of us fail to take action or speak up when we see injustice or abuse? Or fail to volunteer when work needs to be done? Or feel sorry for someone who is down on his luck, but never offer to help him?
So many of us live minimalist Christian lives. We barely do anything aside from keeping ourselves in check. Our days are filled with work, TV, the internet, relaxing and worrying, with a little bit of enjoyment here and there. We attend church on Sundays, but how engaged are we?
What has happened to us? Where is our discipleship? Where is the spark of God that once resided in our hearts?
Let's look at some of what Jesus taught us:
Blessed are the meek, merciful, pure, peacemakers, etc. Matt 5:3-12
Don't be angry at anyone: Matt 5:21-22
Turn the other cheek and do not resist an evil person: Matt 5:38-41
Give to anyone who asks you and let anyone who wants to borrow. Matt 5: 42
Love your enemy. Matt 5: 43-45
Welcome strangers. Matt 5: 46-48
Humbly give to the needy: Matt 6: 1-4
Pray to God sincerely: Matt 6:5-13
Let go of your worries for this life: Matt 6: 25-34
Do not judge anyone: Matt 7: 1-5
Do onto others as you would have them do onto you: Matt 7: 12
Love God and love your neighbor: Matt 22: 36-40
Preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15
We praise God for each of these teachings and commandments, but we don't realize that as Jesus' disciple, God REALLY expects us to live them out.
As you went down this list, I am sure you mentally "CHECKED" them off to compare and see if you were good at doing these teachings....but that still isn't the point.
We need to step back and look at the WHOLE PICTURE. This is not just a list of things to do...This is a PORTRAIT.
Jesus' teachings paint a portrait of who His disciple is to be, and these are the TRAITS of one who is living in Christ.
His portrait is of a person who is a humble, serving, sincere, warm, caring, not judgmental, positive, loves God, and reaches out to all people around him, never discriminating and always welcoming.
We are FOLLOWERS of "The Way" that Jesus has put forth to us. He is not giving us "advice" about how to live. Just as Jesus commanded His disciples centuries ago, He is commanding us, also His disciples, the same thing.
When we give ourselves to Him and follow His teachings and commands, His Light radiates from us and the world blossoms. Goodness prevails and things change for the better. Love, goodness and righteousness cut through the darkness of selfishness and sin that pervade in our world.
Well, not everyone can be a spiritual hero and many of us are not at that place yet to completely hand over our lives to Christian servitude, but realize, to be a follower of Jesus Christ is an HONOR. Jesus has high expectations for those who choose to walk with Him, yet so many of us lag way behind and wander off, following from a distance.
Jesus even says, "Many are called, but few are chosen" and "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life." He knows it is tough. The distractions of the world take us away from Him.
You may say, "I know all of Jesus' teachings and I'm doing the best I can, but it's impossible". Yes, it can be nearly impossible...without the Holy Spirit. We need The Spirit to breathe life into our hearts.
It is the difference between a fake smile and a real smile that shines of joy. It is the difference between a cold handshake and big warm hug.
That is why we must be born again to become a New Creature through the Spirit. We cannot follow God very well on our own, but what is required is a WILLINGNESS and a SUBMISSION to God. A decision to follow God seriously and submit all our love, strength and might to His Ways. If we can do this, the Spirit will come into us and lead us ahead. When we surrender to God, the Spirit can live through us.
When we decide to follow Jesus, there is no turning back. We must be as Jesus' original disciples who gave up EVERYTHING UP to follow Him.
When we live in His Spirit, God's love is evident to all.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13-34-35
Unfortunately, we have failed to put forth Christ's love for the world to see.
Non-believers have a bad view of Christians today and who can blame them?
Christians today can be aggressive, finger pointing, judgmental, intolerant, in your face, hypocritical, self-righteous and arrogant and will use their Christian label for politics, influence or business to manipulate the world to get what they want, counter to the basic teachings of Jesus.
As Jesus says, "By their fruit you will recognize them" Matt 7: 15-23
But the one who lives in the Spirit of God shines with the Fruits of the Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5: 22-23
And the Love that shines from God is the real deal.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
This why it is so important for us to live out our faith completely, to show who Christ really is.
Especially now because the world, in its current state is dying. People are falling into poverty. The sick are being abandoned. The world is at war with itself. Corruption and greed is ruining everyone and everything. And as Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 concerning the End Times, love is growing cold. No one cares for anyone anymore.
This is why Jesus needs us to LIVE THE LIFE NOW. We are His disciples...His followers...Little Christs.
When we look at the complete portrait that Jesus has painted of His follower, we see a person of love, faith, strength and compassion. A person who is gentle, kind, giving, sharing, without an ego, and not attached to money, wealth, or material things. His disciple is free of greed, envy and selfishness, and not engaged in the nonsense, goals, aspirations and pettiness of the world, but lives for what is important: Love for God and community, striving for peace, standing up justice, helping out people who are suffering and oppressed, uplifting instead of tearing down and spreading the Gospel so others can join in His way to heal and save the world.
Jesus has painted a portrait of how each of us must live...
and that portrait looks just like Him.
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