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The Meaning of Discipleship ~~ Luke 9:23

“And he said to all, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The word “disciple” means a follower, learner, understudy, or apprentice. The Greek noun and verb for “disciple” occur about 270 times in the New Testament (but only in the Gospel accounts and Acts). In the fullest, most biblical sense, discipleship involves living as close to Christ as possible, being fully attentive to His words and ways, being willing to sacrifice on His behalf, and being deeply desirous of reflecting His love and grace to others.

According to Luke 9:23, the path of discipleship is: Universal. Available to “all” or “anyone” (Matthew 11:28-30). Perpetual. Discipleship is a “daily” thing. It’s not something to pursue just when we feel like it or if it’s convenient. Personal. Real discipleship necessitates that one “deny self.” No one else can do this for us! To “deny” means to say “no” to something or to refuse. See John 13:38 and Hebrews 11:24. Denying self means that we do not live for ourselves, but for God and His will. Painful. To “take up the cross” involves taking up an instrument of death; in this case, a death to selfishness and pride. We dare not become advocates of “non-impact discipleship.” When it comes to discipleship, there IS such a thing as “NO PAIN / NO GAIN.”

However, even in suffering and pain, there is the joy of knowing we’re drawing closer to Jesus (Romans 8:18; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 12:1-2). Practical. Jesus said, “Follow me.” At the heart of this statement are love, obedience, purpose and direction. It’s too easy to adopt just enough “Christianity” (2 Timothy 3:5) to be religious, but NOT have an inside-out faith that transforms our lives! In an age of cost-cutting and down-sizing, one area where cuts simply cannot be made is in our relationship with our Lord.

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