Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Robert Lutz, the founder of Transformation Ministries, joins us to talk about what it means to be a disciple. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Chad: Thanks, it’s Faith Time, our weekly conversation on matters of faith, joining us this morning is
Robert Lutz, founder of Transformation Ministries, you were formerly with Shiloh Baptist Church in Saraland–tell us about this new venture?
Guest: Thank you, Chad for having me. Yes. God sometimes puts new ventures in your life. Transformation Ministries came from a need I saw a few years ago for discipleship. It is designed around developing an intentional method of discipleship helping people understand the fundamentals of becoming like Christ. based off of Romans 12:2 where it tells us not to be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind or getting the mind in the right direction. It includes a daily 3-minute devotional called 180. People can find it at this address on the web.
Chad: We wanted to talk about discipleship this morning. What is discipleship?
Guest: Discipleship is the process of learning to be like Christ. This process does not happen instantaneously, it takes time. Jesus took twelve men and spent three years with them, disciplining them to do the work of God.
Chad: In Scripture, you read of disciples – Jesus had them; John the Baptist had them? How did someone become a disciple?
Guest: In biblical times, men called rabbis (meaning teacher) had disciples whom they mentored. To become a disciple in the New Testament was not an easy task. When a young man felt he had the ability and the desire to become a disciple, he would then go to a rabbi he liked and follow him to see how he lived and taught. Then he would go to him and say, “May I follow you?” The rabbi would then observe the young man for a while, walking with him and ask the candidate questions. Then if the rabbi felt the young man had the fire in his soul and the ability to understand Scripture, would say, “Come, follow me.” When a rabbi would say those words, he meant, “Come, be like me.”
Chad: What were some requirements to be a disciple?
Guest: In reality, most men were turned down because to be like the rabbi demanded an incredible amount of discipline. They would have to memorize the entire Old Testament. Most were turned down and returned to the family business. The few who did make it got to be Talmid or disciples.
Chad: In seems in Scripture that the men who became Jesus’ disciples did not approach Jesus?
Guest: You are correct. Typically, the rabbi would wait for the young men to approach them. However, when Jesus went to these young men while they were fishing and said, “Come, follow me.” The fact these men were fishing tells us they had already been rejected by the other rabbis. The rabbis in the community did not see the special abilities or the fire required to become Talmid in these men. Jesus did not find the smartest, most gifted men to follow him. He found ordinary men. Notice Jesus chose them. Have you ever thought no one believed in you or believed you could do great things. These men had the incredible experience of Jesus, the Son of God coming to them and saying, “I believe you can become like me. I believe in you. I know you. You can do it.” And by the way, there are many today who don’t think they are disciple material, but Jesus wants all of us to be His disciples. By the grace of God, you can be like Jesus as He enables you to do so. No matter our past or what others say, God yearns for us to be disciples of Him.
Chad: what is the goal of a disciple?
Answer: Just as the goal of the disciples of Jesus was to imitate Him in everything they did, including how they thought, what they said and what they did. The goal of a modern day disciple is to imitate Christ by thinking as He thinks; seeing as He sees; listening as He listens; speaking as He speaks, and doing as He does. As we begin to imitate Christ in all we do, people will recognize our close walk with Him. People will respond like the religious leaders did to Peter and John in Acts 4:13, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”
Chad: What does it look like to be a disciple today – I mean we don’t have people saying, “Come, follow me.”
Guest: You’re right, we don’t, but we really should. As a believer matures and is becoming more like Christ, they need to find people they can help mentor and disciple. But it is learning how to read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture. It’s learning to pray continually and have those special times listening to God. It’s learning how to share your faith with others and living in a state of dependence on the Holy Spirit. When we can learn some of these fundamentals we are well on our way to being a disciple.
Chad: How did the disciples know they had finished being disciples?
Guest: Great question. Of course, we never totally stop learning and growing. But when a disciple had learned everything they needed to imitate their rabbi, the rabbi would tell them, “Now, go make disciples.” Jesus has already told us in the Great Commission in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples…” So as we grow, we should be finding others we can mentor, disciple and grow in their walk with Christ.