Being a disciple: the glory of God shining through

It's a scandal of the Church in England that in the past decades it has tried everything except to stick to Jesus' plan for the world: 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

(Matthew 28:19-20 NRSV)

Discipleship was Jesus' big idea, and plan for the renewal of society; a catalyst and engine for building God's Kingdom.

Being a disciple is not about following a set of rules but about a relationship: a relationship with the living, risen Jesus Christ. Jesus did not say ‘submit to these guidelines’ but ‘follow me’ and ‘come and see’.

Jesus calls both men and women to be disciples: to learn from him, to pattern their lives upon his life, to follow him. 

A disciple lives in the way of Jesus. A disciple devotes the whole of their lives, and for their whole life-long, to imitating Jesus Christ. A disciple invites others to become disciples who, in turn, invites others to be disciples … and so on.

As a 10-year-old it was Christians like that who created in me a thirst for Christ, the living water. 'I stooped down and drank, new life flooded my whole being.

Archbishop John Sentamu

Jesus’ idea, which has lasted over the centuries, was simply this: being a disciple was to belong to a community of sinners called to be saints, a divine society where the risen Christ in the midst of it is grace and truth, and the Holy Spirit is at work within it. An inclusive and generous friendship, where each person is affirmed as of infinite worth, dignity and influence. A community of love, overflowing in gratitude and wholehearted surrender, because it participates in the life of God.

This Christ-centred life happened in the first century when a tiny handful of timid disciples began, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the greatest spiritual revolution the world has ever known. Even the mighty Roman Empire yielded, within three centuries, to the power of the Good News of God in Christ.

The scandal of the church is that the Christ-event is no longer life-changing, it has become life-enhancing. We've lost the power and joy that makes real disciples, and we've become consumers of religion and not disciples of Jesus Christ.

Sections of the above are based on an extract of the Archbishop's Inauguration Address at York Minster (2005)

To find out more about becoming a Christian or to explore faith in greater depth there are a number of courses available.