“What is Christian Discipleship?”

One of my favorite verses in the NT is 2 Tim 2:2: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” This is meaningful to me, because it focuses on Christian discipleship in terms of the need to help others to follow Jesus.

In the beginning of his ministry, Paul had already sensed the incredible responsibility of being a follower and an apostle of Jesus Christ. He writes that we are “entrusted with the gospel” (1 Thess 2:4). That means he was to guard the gospel and to commit it to the next generation of Christians. It is no wonder why he devoted much instruction to Timothy, Titus, and many others.

What exactly do we mean by Christian discipleship? On a personal level, it means to follow Jesus and to become more like him in our Christian journey. However, that is merely part of the equation. On a more inter-personal level, it means every Christian is responsible to bring others to maturity in Christ. All of us, in a sense, are discipling or being discipled. There is no middle or neutral ground. Christian discipleship is deliberate in its goal—to help others become more like Jesus. This is sacrificial service and much effort and time are required for people to change.

However, we can be encouraged in spite of the difficulty of the work. Why? Because discipleship is also divine work. Paul writes: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The work of conversion is ultimately the work of God, involving frail people such as ourselves.

Living in a society that is becoming stridently individualistic, this is a huge challenge. That is why the church needs to be intensely intentional in discipling others. All sorts of people join churches for various reasons. Some are more well-founded than others. But all people are looking for help in their lives. Discipleship involves teaching, mentoring, and modeling the Christian faith. There are many good teaching resources available. At the end of the day, curriculum is not the main concern. The challenge in the years to come is for every Christian to get equipped and disciple others until Jesus returns.