By Sherry Habben
Through all of my reading there has emerged a general consensus (although sometimes phrased differently) as to how a true disciple of Jesus Christ lives daily life and bears fruit. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about love: “A new command I give you: Love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35. This is a radical kind of love that loves as Jesus loved. This is a love that takes action.
Living like Jesus and being a fruit-bearing disciple, means life is going to be different. A disciple’s lifestyle is going to look different and they will not always fit in with the culture around them. They will be reading Scripture to find out how Jesus lived, what he taught and trying to live their lives with the same beliefs, values and principles. It will not always be easy and will require making changes in everything from how they spend their time, energy, and money to what they do to simplify lives and possessions.
Their goals will be different and what is considered “success” will change. Sometimes they will fail and have to try again. The true disciple will continually be seeking to grow spiritually knowing there is always a deeper level. They will be serving others understanding that bearing fruit as a disciple means understanding that it is not about them; it is about what God wants and God’s goals.
A disciple who bears fruit will be willing to give up control over their lives and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct their lives.
In order to be a fruit-bearing disciple, they will be practicing the means of grace—prayer, Scripture reading and study, fasting, corporate worship, participating in Holy Communion, making ourselves available in Holy conferencing, and doing acts of mercy. A fruit-bearing disciple is constantly praying and meditating to hear where God is calling them to go and what he is calling them to do. Disciples bear fruit by trusting God and being courageous, taking risks, stepping out of their comfort zones, and using the spiritual gifts that God has given them for the building up of the church and the kingdom of God.
True disciples share their faith, tell their stories of how God has worked in their lives and where they have been aware of God’s presence. They invite others to experience the love of Christ and help them become aware of God’s desire to have a relationship with them. They help others to discover, acknowledge, and use the gifts God has given to them.
A true, fruit-bearing disciple enters into a consistent, intentional, vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are mindful and attentive to their interior spiritual life from which comes the desire and means to take outward actions.
Brian McClaren in his new book “We Make The Road By Walking” talks about what it meant for those whom Jesus called to follow him, to be his disciples. He says: “To become disciples of a rabbi meant entering a rigorous program of transformation, learning a new way of life, a new set of values, a new set of skills. It meant leaving behind the comforts of home and facing a new set of dangers on the road. Once they were thoroughly apprenticed as disciples, they would then be sent out as apostles to spread the rabbi’s controversial and challenging message everywhere. One did not say yes to discipleship lightly.” He goes on to say: “Perhaps the time has come to rediscover the power and challenge of that earlier more primary word disciple.”