Living as a disciple

By Bishop Gary E. Mueller The emphasis is the same whether it’s the United Methodist Church, the Arkansas Annual Conference or our “Next Steps” Trajectory—we’re all about making disciples of Jesus Christ. But exactly what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines a disciple as “a person who believes in the ideas of a leader, especially a religious or political one, and tries to live according to those ideas.” But Jesus Christ is not merely a great religious leader. He is the Son of God, the Incarnation, Second Person of the Trinity, Savior and Lord. He is the One who gives you what you absolutely need, but can never get on your own: salvation, healing, wholeness, transformation and an eternal relationship with God. This means being a disciple is not just something you do on your own, as if it’s all about your best efforts. You become a disciple only through the grace Jesus offers, his invitation into a personal relationship, the call to follow him in ministry by living the life he shared and an offer to experience perfection in love so that it is the motivating factor in everything you do. That’s why I want to offer my own definition of a disciple. It’s far from definitive, and certainly open to improvement, but I believe it begins to get at the divine dynamic that is present in living as a disciple of Jesus Christ: A disciple accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, constantly matures in living the life Jesus shares, makes new disciples and gets involved in God’s transformation of lives, communities and the world. Being a disciple is the result of a relationship with Jesus Christ so personal and powerful it fundamentally changes your self-understanding, what matters most and how you live. It becomes your very identity. It’s a day-to-day thing that touches everything you do and every decision you make. It’s marked by compassion, humility and reaching out to share Jesus’ grace. Is it scary? Perhaps. Does it change you? Yes. Will it take a life-changing commitment? Absolutely. But, then, that’s the point, isn’t it? Grace and peace, Gary E. Mueller