Discipleship: Five Guiding Themes

If you cut me off in traffic, it will irk me — unless I know you’re rushing to the hospital. And, if you live next door, we’ll keep quiet at night so we don’t wake you — unless your apartment is on fire. Then we’ll be shouting and pounding on your door.

What we understand about our circumstances makes all the difference. This is the root of discipleship. By learning from Jesus what’s true, we’re more able to live as He would in our shoes. While not everything He teaches is as obvious as an apartment fire, faith, practice, and the examples of others help us along. Together, we grow.

Here are the five guiding themes from Christ’s life and teachings I see as foundational to discipleship. They’re not the only ways to learn Christ, but they capture the worldview He modeled and taught.

  1. Love God wholeheartedly (Matthew 22:36-40)
  2. Abide in Christ (John 15:4-5)
  3. Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22-25)
  4. Identify as a member of Christ’s family (Matthew 12:48-50)
  5. Seek the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)

Each of these themes represents a worldview and a practice. Many of the more common facets of following Christ fall under one or more of them (e.g., reading the Biblespiritual gifts, fellowship, and prayer). Taken together, these practices and perspectives can bring dramatic change to any community of believers.