A few weeks ago, I set up the differences between description and prescription while arguing that both bring enlightenment to the discipleship enterprise. Prescriptive discipleship would give obligations and duties that make one a disciple. Or, perhaps better stated, prescriptive discipleship would prescribe what one ought to do if one is, in fact, a disciple of Jesus. To that end, an interesting exercise is to sketch through the Gospels the conditions that Jesus puts on discipleship understood to be radical submission in following Christ. Here are some of those prescriptions:
- If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. – Luke 9:23
- We see here the radical submission of disciple to rabbi. A disciple, who already knew the Hebrew Scriptures, would submit his own will, desire, and interpretations to the rabbi’s authoritative word about how the Scriptures apply to worldview and life. Likewise, Jesus gives us the authoritative word about His creation: a kingdom has been inaugurated through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and this kingdom will be actualized in a New Heavens and New Earth at Christ’s ultimate return. May we live now as citizens of that kingdom.
- If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. – John 8:29
- Jesus just taught his Messiahship and necessary suffering. We must remain vigilant to have the crucifixion, resurrection, and kingdom as our filters for life. The Scriptures are our guide. We come to learn Jesus’ worldview through understanding the Bible.
- By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35
- The context here is that the disciples would love one another. We must care for those who are a part of the kingdom of God, that is, believers. We must minister to believers in a supererogatory way; a way that will make unbelievers notice the love we have for one another, perhaps even desiring such love for themselves.
- If you love Me, you will keep my commands. – John 14:15
- Obedience and duty are not always the most exciting words in modern faith movements. Nevertheless, John loved to point the children of God to obedience, both in the Gospel and 1 John. We must obey through the power of the Spirit. Our obedience will reflect for society the good design God has for them, their families, and their futures.
- My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. – John 15:8
- Disciples are multipliers. Fruit here refers to new believers. Christ is the main branch of the grape vine, and as we believers are offshoots, we must produce grapes, that is, new believers. We do this through proclaiming the kingdom, sharing our story of transformation, and serving others. Invite unbelievers into your lives and live obediently in front of them. Be explicit why you do what you do: because Christ has redeemed me!
As leaders, we must be models of these five conditionals as we demonstrate for our group members what it means to be a follower of Christ. We must be intentional and we must saturate these foci with prayer. My we abide in Him so that He may abide in us for the sake of giving Him to those who are lost and searching.