I don’t know.
Only God can judge and sort that out.
But I do know that our obsession with getting people to make a decision for Jesus has led us to a reality where we have large numbers of severely under-developed, stunted, nominal Christians filling our churches. This two-tiered USA gospel, unlike the witness of the New Testament, supposes that a person can become a Christian and not follow Jesus.
A disciple follows Jesus, allowing Him to change him/her for the sake of the world.
A “believer” assents intellectually to what Jesus and Scripture says. But their lives are not directed by Jesus or oriented around Him.
A disciple, however, is characterized by the following:
- A firsthand, personal relationship with Jesus
- A commitment to listen to Him for direction
- A love for Scripture
- Self-awareness—reflected in the ability to take their feelings and lay them out before Jesus and themselves
- Silence and stillness
- An expectation to grow (i.e., knowing)
- Rhythms in their days and weeks (i.e., times with God and Sabbath)
- Regular confession of sin
- A commitment to serve and give.
You may add or delete items on my list, but at least one difficult question remains:
What percentage of the people in our church really are disciples?
I remember my church history professor in seminary noting that one reason Islam swept so rapidly through the Mideast in the seventh century was the spiritual weakness of the church. Perhaps that is the reason secular values and culture have so thoroughly permeated and swept through our churches today.
Can you be a believer not a disciple?
Again I am not sure, but I do know we must reorient our churches to make disciples beyond simply getting people connected and serving. And, we must lead them to the uncomfortable places where they can be deeply changed by Jesus for the sake of the world.
This article originally appeared here.