Follow the Jesus model
It is no secret that God has a plan for world domination and world transformation. This is part of the reason that Jesus Christ came to Earth. The Son of God wasted no energy or released no idle words, but did according to this plan. He lived, died, and was resurrected according to that strategy of changed lives changing the world.
In order for this plan to truly work, Jesus invested serious time in individuals in a small group for them to grow and eventually take over from Him. These persons were called disciples.
A disciple is simply a student or pupil of someone, and in the context of the Bible, a Christian is a disciple of Christ Jesus; “… the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”. Acts 11:26 (KJV). So every Christian is a part of God’s plan to take over the world. And the process of discipleship is the development of Christians.
But in modern times, the concept has been getting a blow. In the late 1990s, the slogan “What Would Jesus Do?” was popularised in W.W.J.D. bracelets, caps, T-shirts, posters, and other paraphernalia. But it got so commercialised and mocked that the purpose of the message was lost. As a result, certain myths about being a disciple of Jesus were born:
1. Spiritual growth is automatic once you are born again;
2. Spiritual growth is mystical, and attainable by only a select few;
3. All you need to grow is to read your Bible and pray regularly.
But, this is not all that Jesus modelled. He selected 12 persons and was deliberate in building them up. He didn’t stop others from following Him, but Jesus spent most of His time with the 12, so that he could work more effectively with them. Jesus’ plan was for them to be like Him. For this to happen, proximity and familiarity were necessary.
Jesus used the principle of life-to-life transference. He spent an enormous amount of time with His disciples so they could see how He lived, served, and spoke truth to others. He invested His life in them, so they could learn through everyday, real-life situations. He practised before them the very things He expected from them like praying and witnessing.
Another method Jesus used was group learning or fellowship in community. The disciples not only learnt from Jesus, but also from one another’s insight, experience, and understanding. They developed their relationships with other disciples as well as with the disciple-maker.
Jesus also recognised the importance of teaching and preaching as evidenced by the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 to 7. In formal teaching, Jesus used a variety of methods, often starting with one experience or incident, or using vivid and familiar pictures in the parables.
Then the disciples had to put into practice what they had actually seen and learned from the Master. “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” Luke 9:1-2 (NIV). He also did the same with 70 others who followed Him. In so doing, He trained them to take over the tasks He was doing so that they could mature for the time when He would no longer be with them.
Because they were with Him day to day, Jesus’ model of discipleship proved to be multidimensional. It covered their spiritual, physical, social, emotional, and even financial life. How are you learning to be a disciple of Jesus? To live the victorious Christian life, we have to be intentional about following Jesus as the first Christians did. What can you do today to more closely follow the Jesus model?