Christians but Not Disciples?

Thanks to my friend and fellow preacher Josh Patrick for bringing this video to my attention.  Listen to this clip from John Piper and tell me what you think.  I’ll share my own thought below.

I don’t listen to many John Piper sermons because he often comes across as a little too acrid for my taste but there is some truth to what he is saying here.  Piper uses the language of “born again” from the Gospel of John.  Let me try to explain it from the language of “discipleship.”

Jesus calls us to follow him (Matt 4:19; Mk 1:17) and later on Jesus makes it clear that following him (Matt 16:24; Mk 8:34) is about discipleship.  The texts uses this word opisō which is translated as “following” or “coming after” Jesus.  It has to do with our posture and position in reference to Jesus.  Accepting the invitation to follow Jesus, we do just that.  That is, we come after him as followers so that we can learn from him and overtime learn to live our lives more and more like he lives his life.  This means that overtime we learn to live our lives by the same beliefs and values Jesus lives his life by, for what we believe and what we value shapes the way we live.

That is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  But that is the problem.  We seem to live in an age where a person can be a Christian but not necessarily be a follower of Jesus.  That is, they can believe in Jesus but not necessarily believe Jesus, living life by the beliefs and values Jesus lives by.  It really raises the question of whether Christians are disciples of Jesus or not.

Piper recognizes that there are plenty of Christians who are really not all that different today then they were when they first met Jesus.  As he says, what is at their foundation has never changed.  Nothing has changed except for a new “bellhop” or “butler.”  And if you’re still not sure what I mean and what I believe Piper means, just open your Facebook feed and read some of the status updates by people who profess to be Christians.

This is at it’s root a problem of discipleship and the question is, what can be done about it?  Stay tuned…

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3 responses to “Christians but Not Disciples?

  1. What can be done about it? Prayer. Admonition. Church discipline for the flagrant sinners. Patience. Becoming Christ-like ourselves through progressive union with Him. Become more focused on our own personal failings to live the life and walk the walk. As Solzinitsen said that the dividing line of those who forget God is through each human heart. Remember that it is hard to distinguish wheat from tares in all but the most mature stages. And know that some you consider are not disciples may be following in a way that you do not perceive. This happened to Fr. Arseny in the Gulag- he was quite a follower, with signs and wonders following, and had judge many as lacking faith, until the Lord whammed him and he saw faith in folks that put him to shame. I would suggest, Rex, that you are so pumped on making others disciples, that it is scaring them; I would suggest that you Be Still; Be a Disciple and let God convert people. As St Seraphim of Sarov said, acquire the spirit of peace and thousands will be saved. The Servant of the Lord must not strive….

    • I’m not as pushy in person as I may sound in this blog post. But I do agree that to make disciples I must be a disciple myself, walking with Christ in prayer, acts of mercy, etc… For I cannot ask or lead anyone to be something I am not myself.

  2. Pingback: Disciples of Jesus | Kingdom Seeking

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