Who are we really disciples of?

Who are we really disciples of? That’s the question that shouts at me as I read the news, scroll through social media, Hear comments from politicians, religious figures, celebrities, and more. It’s the question that shouts loudly as I observe how people treat others when they drive, when we come across someone who is different, when we encounter the poor, the homeless, the outcast.

Who am I a disciple of? That’s the question that gets in my face each day. Sometimes I fail in answering this question because I am sinful and broken and sometimes follow the ways of the world. Other days are better and I listen to Jesus and follow him.

Who are you a disciple of? Jesus? How would anyone know? Does it show in how you talk and in what you do? Does your discipleship come through in how you talk about people who are different from you? Does it come through in how you treat the poor? Does it comes through in what you say about your enemies? Does it come through in what values you embrace?

Who are you a disciple of?

What I observe is a supposedly Christian nation that is comfortable with the label of being Christian, but in practice is anything but following Jesus. And it pains me to say that. This isn’t true of everyone, of course. There are many who are doing what they can to follow Jesus.

Who are we disciples of? Based on what I observe and hear, the answer I must conclude is that some, or possibly many, in our nation are disciples of the Republican or Democrat parties. Some in the nation are disciples of Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi. Or pick any other political leader that comes to mind. Considering we have started another presidential campaign and many people are jumping in, there will be plenty more people for us to become disciples of. Of course, that’s not to limit discipleship to politics. There are others who are disciples of sports teams or figures, celebrities, work, addictions, entertainment, etc. Anything that can be an idol can also be a master that we can follow.

I don’t say any of that lightly. Discipleship is a serious matter.

What is a disciple? Someone who listens to their teacher, takes in what they say, and follows them. To follow means to you speak the words that you hear your teacher speak. You emulate your teacher. You adopt the beliefs of your teacher. You follow the actions your teacher tells you to do. To follow means to take on the attitude of your teacher.

Often to be a disciple is to see your salvation wrapped up in and personified in the person you are following. Disciples and followers of Jesus are supposed to do this. We are supposed to speak words that Jesus speaks — it’s called the Good News. We are supposed to follow the actions that Jesus calls on us to do. We are called to treat people — even enemies — in certain ways. It’s what makes a Christian, Christian.

If we are really disciples of Jesus, we would think, act, speak, and behave far different from we do as a nation.

Disciples of Jesus come to the aid of people who are distressed or oppressed. Disciples of Jesus show mercy. Disciples of Jesus offer forgiveness willingly. They recognize their own brokenness when they interact with others. They see the log in their own eye when they see the speck in the other person’s.

Disciples of Jesus look through the lens of Jesus when they interact with other. They look through the lens of Jesus when they are considering other groups, different religions, people from other countries, people of different sexuality.

Disciples of Jesus hear Jesus’ words and do them — feed the hungry, clothe those who need clothing, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, visit those in prison.

Disciples of Jesus do the things they would rather not do, but do them anyway because Jesus tells them to do it. Things like love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Turn the other cheek.

Disciples of Jesus love their neighbors and understand that a neighbor is more than just someone you like, it goes way beyond that. Disciples of Jesus understand that loving our neighbors and enemies is how we show that we love God.

Disciples of Jesus show who they are by their actions, by their love, by their selflessness.

America, and the world, would be far different if Christians actually lived out what they claim to believe about Jesus and what he teaches and calls on Christians to live. Not because we would have instituted some kind of theocracy — far from it. The world would be better because Christians would actually be living out the teaching of Jesus — willingly. They would be living the faith, rather than arguing about who is right, pointing out why we should fear “others,” and putting our hope and salvation in any person or ideology.

Let us pray, Lord forgive me when I turn my back on following you in favor of my way of living. Radically reorient me towards you so that I may hear your words and follow them in joy. You have the words of eternal life. Amen.

Originally published at laceduplutheran.com on January 23, 2019.



My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.

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Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.