Three Sides of Discipleship: A Look at Jesus

By Evan Bartholomew, Lead Minister.


The three sides of this triangle are Commitment, Attitunde and Relationship!

Out of all the biblical commands found in the inerrant Word of God, there are none more challenging than the call Jesus gave to His first disciples, “Come, follow me…” (Mark 1:17). Jesus’ death was and is salvation for the lost, and His life, the standard for the saved! In His own claim, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NIV). The lifestyle that Jesus lived was recorded in just four books of the Bible, and reduplicated even after His ascension as recorded throughout the rest of the New Testament. When the Corinthian church began to struggle, Paul admonishes them, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1 NIV). Jesus had already gone, but still, His life was the standard! It was a standard that the church in Corinth had forgotten, and in doing so, began to drift from God. And it is the standard for our lives even today!

Jesus set the standard in three different and distinct areas of His life: His commitment, His attitude, and His relationship with God.

Commitment

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV).

“But, seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV).

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33 (NIV).

For most of us, we begin to understand commitment from a very early age. Young, tiny, and clueless about almost everything in life, many of us were signed up to play sports when we were little children. I began playing basketball when I was just five. Yet, even at five, I understood that I had to go to basketball practice five days a week in order to be on the team! Although, I was often reluctant, and full of excuses of why I shouldn’t go to practice but still play in the games, my parents made sure that I fulfilled my commitment to the team! Everyday I showed up, and everyday I worked hard. Of course, I later became much more appreciative of the lessons that were taught to me through my parents resolve to keep me on the team. Sadly though, there are so many people who are less committed to God than little children are to their pee-wee basketball teams! Jesus says in His famous sermon on the mount, “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness”! A true disciple needs to be committed in two areas: the Kingdom of God and to living a righteous life!

Although none of us can ever measure up to being perfectly sinless like Jesus was, it is the commitment to try to live a righteous life that we are called to. None of my basketball coaches ever expected every shot I took to go in, but they ALL expected me to try and rebound the ones I missed! In a quote by one of my all-time favorite basketball players, Micheal Jordan says, “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Very often, God works through our failures and unrighteousness to teach us, and make us more righteous. But, it takes a commitment to live a righteous life!

Secondly, in seeking first the Kingdom, we must understand that this means both the people of God—His disciples—and also It’s forceful advancement into all nations. The church of God is to be the “first” priority in our lives, and our schedules. This concept is so strange to many of us American’s who are cultured to think that our careers and our security are the first priorities of life. It’s difficult to imagine that Jesus would be at all concerned about either one. When He called the first disciples, He called nearly all of them at a time when they were busy working. Andrew and Simon (Peter) were “casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen” (Mark 1:16 NIV). James and John were with their father and their family business “preparing their nets” (Mark 1:19 NIV). Matthew, or Levi, “was sitting at the tax collector’s booth” (Mark 2:14 NIV). Also, in regard to their security, Jesus put them in more danger than ever. There was nothing that was more of a priority than the people of God. “Whoever does God’s will is My brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:31-35 NIV).

Later, Mark records, “He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach…” (Mark 3:14 NIV). The number 12 was significant. It was the same number of sons that Jacob (later renamed Israel) had, whom later became the 12 tribes of Israel. They were God’s people in the Old Testament Covenant. Jesus was now creating a spiritual Kingdom, not a physical Kingdom! As physical kingdom’s seek advancement through war and defeating territory, His spiritual Kingdom would seek forceful advancement on earth through the likes of His 12 apostles going out and preaching, and then teaching other disciples how to go out and preach also! It is the same type of advancement that we are to be committed to now!

Attitude

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV).

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude….” I Peter 4:1 (NIV).


Karaoke with some of the brothers, (l-r) Chris, Thomas, Levi and Jordan!

One of the most overlooked areas of Jesus life is His attitude! Jesus was surely committed. Scripture says, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” His commitment reached all the way to a point of the most extreme sacrifice He possibly could have given. Yet, even more amazing to me, is the attitude He had while He literally gave up everything He had. Sometimes we can be committed as disciples, but our attitudes about our commitment can look more like an imitation of Jack Nicholson, who typically plays an older aged cynic in in almost any one of several movies, rather than Jesus. Jesus was most definitely perfect in His commitment, but even in His suffering, His attitude was just as perfect!

The scriptures admonish disciples to “ARM yourselves also with the SAME attitude…”! Perhaps, the most vulnerable area in our battle against Satan, who Peter describes later as a “roaring lion,” (I Peter 1:8 NIV) is our attitude. A bad attitude gives him the perfect opportunity to turn a committed heart into a bitter heart, and a faithful heart into a troubled heart. We must always hold to the commitment of a disciple, but we must also do it with the “same” attitude that Jesus had!

Relationship

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” Luke 11:1 (NIV).

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” Mark 1:35-39 (NIV).

How did Jesus get the strength to have such a great commitment and the incredible attitude that went along with it? It was those little escapes, when He would go off to a solitary place where He could spend some time with God! It was always prayer that kept Jesus laser focused and whole-hearted in His commitment! It was also prayer that gave Jesus’ the attitude that He had as He went through the most difficult of trials. Even in Gethsemane, where Jesus spent His last few hours before His gruesome death, the Bible records, “And being in anguish, He prayed MORE earnestly…” (Luke 22:44 NIV). It was in the hardest times that Jesus spent more time prayed His hardest!


Evan preaches about “The Meaning of Life” at our church’s “Bring Your Neighbor Day” last Sunday!

It was once said by a famous preacher, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.” Prayer is the lifeblood, the oxygen of a disciple, in which there is no remedy that can be adequately substituted for it’s power to sustain all those who devote themselves to imitating Jesus! Unlike breathing however, which is done without thought or desire, prayer takes resolve in order to build a relationship with God that refuels us daily!

In all three areas of discipleship, Jesus was completely flawless! As the Bible puts it, “…a lamb without blemish or defect” (I Peter 1:19 NIV). On the other hand, His disciples usually are strong in one of these areas, and very weak in another. This is evidence of our continual need for God’s grace. A mistake is made, however, when only one of these areas is emphasized and worked on in our lives. Some are extremely committed, have a great attitude about their commitment, but fail to consistently pray and talk with God. The commitment lasts for a short time, and then “burn-out” occurs. On the other hand, there are some who pray often and consistently, have a great attitude, but waiver in their commitment to the Kingdom and to living righteously. Such unbalance is like someone who exercises, but gives total disregard to their diet. They remain unhealthy. As a people always striving to be more and more like Jesus, and spiritually healthy, let us examine our own lives in the midst of Jesus’ perfect example, and work on our commitment, attitudes, and relationship with God! God bless!