Recently I attended a meeting where someone posed the question “What is discipleship?” which set me thinking. But before we can even begin to answer that question we first need to ask “What is a Disciple?”
“Easy,” we might say, “simply turn to the pages of the New Testament and start listing James and John, Peter and Andrew and the rest of the twelve Jesus called to follow him. Those are the 12 disciples.” So we might conclude that a disciple is someone who has been with Jesus. I sometimes find myself wondering wistfully what it would have been like to be one of those first 12 disciples and to have the privilege of spending 3 years, 24/7 with Jesus; walking the same dusty roads, sleeping on the same dusty floors and eating food from the same battered table.
Yet it is clear from the Great Commission where he tells us to ‘make disciples of all nations’ that Jesus saw the group of people called disciples as extending far beyond the 12 to include ourselves. But how can this be when we can’t be with Jesus like the twelve were? Or can we?
Jesus promised that when he went to heaven he would leave behind the Holy Spirit to be our comforter or ‘advocate to help us and be with us forever’. Take a moment to ponder the significance of this promise. Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that, like the 12 disciples, we can be in Jesus’ company every moment of every day, wherever we are!
We will begin this autumn term with a series called ‘Life in the Spirit’. My prayer is that we do more than simply learn truth about the Holy Spirit over the coming weeks. Unless we have a genuine experience of the Holy Spirit that causes us to encounter Jesus day by day we are liable to drift from being in relationship with him as his disciples and become merely historians who know about Jesus. Join me in praying that this series will lead us into a fresh encounter with Jesus as we open up our lives to Him.
 Matthew 28:19
 John 14:16
This blog post featured in the September 2014 edition of Lifelines