I recently posted something about words or phrases that we use but do not fully understand. A couple examples I gave were “Jesus is always with me” and “God has a plan for my life.” Another example I could have used is discipleship. If you ask a 100 people to define discipleship you’ll get a number of answers. We use the term in so many contexts that understanding what discipleship actually is, how to do it, and why it is important becomes quite foggy.
What is discipleship? What do you think when you hear the word? Do you think about something that gets a new believer up to speed? Do you think about a class, or developing a relationship with someone who has been a Christian for less time than you? This lack of clarity has kept us from fully understanding discipleship and therefore has gotten in the way of our practice of it.
Do you want to hear something interesting? The word “discipleship” never appears in the Bible. That’s right. Do a quick search of biblegateway.com if you don’t believe me. Your search will bring back exactly one result, the section heading for Luke 14:25-33. If that doesn’t sound quite right, let me point out something else. The word “disciple” appears in the Gospels and Acts 260 times!
Because of this, there was once a time when I tried to eliminate the word discipleship from my vocabulary and replace it with disciple. “Discipleship is something you do, while a disciple is something you are,” was my thought. Of course that became a grammatical nightmare, and I quickly abandoned the struggle. The struggle, however, got to the heart of our misunderstanding of discipleship. God doesn’t want us to practice discipleship. We are not called to DO discipleship. Jesus wants us to BE disciples.