What if you believed that being a disciple of Jesus and making disciples for Jesus were important priorities of your Christian life? How might you live out these priorities? What would your daily life include?
Before you begin feeling guilt or regret about things you know you should do, consider that God knows you (and all of humanity). God created you. God knows you intimately, and He designed being a disciple of Jesus and making disciples for Jesus with your human nature in mind. God knows you often resist external control or influence, yet you subject yourself to the control of others and things all the time. God knows you fight and rage against conformity and status quo, yet you conform to cultural expectations and pursue the path of least resistance constantly. God knows you gravitate toward and often desire destructive, harmful things and relationships that leave you wounded, fearful, and scarred. But God still invites you to be a disciple of His by offering you a relationship with Him through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
You can enter a relationship with God through your belief in Jesus.
Maybe you already know how to enter a relationship with God through Jesus, but you struggle like many other believers in Jesus with how to be a disciple of Jesus, much less make disciples for Jesus in this world.
Instead of starting a new to-do list for yourself of what you “should” do or making a heartfelt commitment of how you will be a “better” disciple of Jesus, what if you consider the words of Jesus to His disciples?
In John 15:1-8, Jesus introduces a metaphor about a vine and its branches. Jesus calls Himself the true vine (John 15:1) and His disciples the branches (John 15:5). The vine and the branches represent a relationship of complete dependence with a constant need for unending connection. A branch not connected to the vine dies and produces nothing. Jesus indicates how His relationship with His disciples works when He commands His disciples to “remain in me and I will remain in you” (John 15:4). Some Bible translations use the word “abide,” which means “to stay” or “to remain” while other translations use the word “rest” or “dwell.” Jesus commands His disciples to stay close to Him, remain attentive to Him, rest their lives in His, and dwell with Him daily.
But notice Jesus is commanding an action on both His part and His disciples.
Jesus establishes that remaining or staying connected is a mutual responsibility between Himself and His disciples. Jesus responds to the efforts of His disciples to remain connected. Abiding in Jesus is about investing in a relationship with Him. Jesus is willing to remain connected to His disciples, but will His disciples choose to put forth the effort to remain connected to Jesus?
What about you? Do you fully depend on Jesus, meaning complete assurance in Him, who He is, and trust Him to fulfill His promises? Throughout your daily living, do you work to keep your attention and affections turned toward Jesus? Do you intentionally remain attached to Jesus as He provides you the life God intended for you? Do you draw on Jesus’ life to receive the full and abundant life He has promised you (John 10:10)? Remaining connected with Jesus is your source to a full and satisfying life!
Belief in Jesus secures a relationship with God, but remaining connected, fully dependent on Jesus, day by day, moment by moment, will require continual effort on your part. In John 15:7, Jesus says, “if you remain in me” – this is a conditional statement. Jesus knows His disciples have a choice to make. Will they stay connected to Him? Jesus informs His disciples that He is physically not going to be present with His disciples in human form much longer, but Jesus would remain united to them and they to Him.
Jesus expects His disciples to choose to remain connected to Him, but how?
Through Jesus’ Words.
Jesus linked remaining connected to Him to knowing and obeying His words (John 14:23-24; John 15:7, 10). To remain connected to Jesus, His disciples should remember Jesus’ teachings, His miracles, His prayers, and His healings. Jesus’ disciples saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched – they experienced God in their presence and interacted with Him. Jesus invites His disciples to reflect, remember, and obey His teachings.
How can you remain connected to Jesus? You, too, have the words of Jesus to keep you connected to Him. Instead of you experiencing first-hand Jesus’ teachings, His miracles, His prayers, and His healings, you have eyewitness accounts in the Bible; specifically, the first four books of the New Testament called the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You also have your personal experiences with Jesus.
Listening, reading, and watching Jesus’ words consistently can support you in remaining connected to Jesus. The Bible is your connection and interaction with God, Himself. Remember, your relationship with Jesus is secure because of your belief in Him, but remaining connected to Jesus comes with mutual responsibility and choice. Jesus responds to your efforts to know Him through reading, listening, watching, and obeying His teachings in the Bible. Being a disciple of Jesus is impacted by what you do with Jesus’ teachings (the Bible).
Through Your Prayers.
Jesus also linked remaining connected to Him to your prayers (John 13:13-14; John 15:7b, 16b). Jesus told His disciples that they should “remain in Him” and then Jesus told His disciples to ask God for anything, and God would grant their request (John 15:7). Notice remaining connected to Jesus – “abiding” comes first, then your prayers and God’s response to your prayers, and finally “fruit production.” Based on this progression of Jesus’ teaching, you are responsible for remaining connected to Jesus – investing in your relationship with Him. Your connection to Jesus provides the privilege of praying to God and having God respond to your prayers. Fruit production results from God working through your connection to Jesus, not your own effort.
God makes disciples of Jesus through you abiding in Jesus. You can do many things in this life for yourself and in the name of Jesus without remaining connected with Jesus. Remember, it’s your choice to remain connected with Jesus through His words and your prayers. Your connection with Jesus provides you with the life God intended, and God accomplishes His mission through you – He makes disciples of Jesus.
God designed life to be lived in relationship with Him. Life fails miserably when you do not remain connected with Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus is about being in a relationship with Jesus and remaining connected to Jesus, day after day, through your full dependence, complete assurance, and constant connection with Jesus. Making disciples of Jesus results from God working through you remaining connected to Jesus and your prayers.
What might help you remain connected with Jesus? What rhythms of your daily life could help you remain connected to Jesus, day after day, until your life draws on Jesus’ life to receive the full and abundant life, He has promised you (John 10:10)? Take some time this week to notice how your connection with Jesus becomes how God works through you to make disciples of Jesus in this world.
If you are interested in learning more about discipleship, check out these blog posts: