“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
Do you realize what Jesus is saying – there are many people who are emotional about their faith, who are active in ministry, and who in fact perform miracles, but their hearts have never been transformed by the gospel of grace. They are believers in Jesus who are not disciples of Jesus.
Is there a difference between believers and disciples? Believers and disciples appear to do many of the same activities, but their motives are miles apart. Many believers try to impress God and those around them by being involved in church and service, but disciples do the same things to know God better and reflect His goodness and greatness to everyone. Believers serve God if it’s convenient, while disciples serve God based on conviction.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Jesus compared the way to heaven as a path and suggested that many have intentionally widened that path by pushing aside the boundaries God placed before us in scripture. Believers focus on the passages that promise what God will do for them, but disciples take the whole counsel of God seriously. Disciples follow God whether they agree with God’s word or not, whether they understand or not, whether obeying is comfortable or not. Believers elevate their opinions, feelings, and thoughts above the Word of God while disciples elevate the Word of God above their opinions, feelings, and thoughts. Jesus says that because so many have created a wider path, they will miss the gate that leads to eternal life with Him. Many will miss eternity with Him because they think they are playing the game properly. But it is not a game, or a performance God seeks but a relationship with Him. The creator of the universe wants us to spend eternity with Him, He has given us the Holy Spirit, prayer and scripture to guide us to Him.
Have you ever considered whether you are just a part-time follower of Christ? Do you only trust God when everything is going well? Disciples follow God regardless of the circumstance. Part-time followers stick around if God seems to be blessing them, and life is easy, but disciples keep pursuing God and trusting in Him even when their world is falling apart. God asks us to believe in Him, repent and turn away from our desire to be a follower under our terms. He asks us to acknowledge His grace and forgiveness, repent and turn from activities we know are offensive to Him, to those around us, and even to ourselves. He wants us to turn from being a weekend follower to a 24/7 disciple.
Instead of starting your day with a coffee, breakfast, a quick check of the news, or whatever you habitually do, start your day by saying: “You are my God, and I want to be on the path that leads to you. Help me honour and love you this day and every day”. It’s a start on the discipleship path.