Links Daily Devotional

The Look of a Disciple

“For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” (John 17:8, ESV)

As I was leaving the course and heading to the parking lot the other day, I passed by the first tee. The last of a group—a single paired with three others—had hit an unremarkable drive and was heading to his cart. Then he said the line we’ve all heard: “I’m just here to enjoy the afternoon.”

Now you and I could have an intriguing discussion after a round someday about the marks of a competitor, but I can assure you that our list would not include a guy who thinks the purpose of a golf round is to simply enjoy the afternoon.

Of course, when we compare competitors and golfers, we can be more sympathetic toward the guy. There is no rule that you have to be competitive to have a good time on the golf course. Golfers have every right to “just enjoy the afternoon.”

You see, every participant in any endeavor can be defined by a set of hallmarks. For instance, competitors are determined and focused, while golfers are relaxed and social.

So what of disciples? What hallmarks show them to be authentic?

Let’s begin with disciples in general. In broad terms a disciple is one who wants to learn and who follows the instruction of a particular teacher or methodology. These general hallmarks apply to disciples in any number of arenas—politics, the arts, and fitness and nutrition, to name a few. But depending on the discipline or the teacher, other hallmarks may also fall into place.

This, then, is true of disciples of Jesus. If the Great Commission of teaching disciples to raise up disciples has been faithfully enacted through the generations, then we might say that we are disciples of Christ just as those who first followed Jesus were. That being the case, what should we look like?

In Jesus’ grand prayer, he spoke openly of two ways the disciples stood out. First, they heard the words of God given by Jesus and they accepted them. Second, they recognized and believed that Jesus had come from the Father.

Surely these must still be hallmarks of true followers of Jesus. We must hear and accept his teaching, for it is the teaching of God. And we must believe that Jesus was no ordinary man, but rather the God-man incarnated for the sake of restoring relationship with God and man by fulfilling the calling the Father had for him: to die as the atoning penalty for our sins.

Is it time for a self-assessment of how closely you follow Jesus, of how much you are his disciple? If so, these hallmarks give you a means for making an inventory of your thoughts, words, and actions today.

Jeff Hopper
October 23, 2014
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