Yesterday I bought a book in the BARGAIN BOOKS section at our local Christian bookstore; and having read the introduction and first chapter last night I’m pretty sure it was a good buy. (Mere Discipleship by Alister McGrath, Baker Books, 2018)

Usually when we use or hear the word disciple we think of those who are followers of Jesus. While the term most often does refer to a follower of Jesus, disciple is not limited to such usage. One definition of disciple is “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.”

Surprising to me, the word disciple is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels and the book of Acts. And it is the usage of the word in the Gospels that gives us the basic definition of a disciple as a follower. In the Gospels Jesus’ first disciples literally followed him.

Today a Christian is a disciple of Jesus, but obviously is not someone who physically follows him as his first disciples did. Nevertheless, even though we as Christians do not and cannot literally follow him, we are still his followers. To be a disciple of Jesus today means to follow him in ways that go beyond walking with and behind him.

Our following Jesus today as his disciples is where the word discipleship comes in. And I learned last night that the word discipleship is not used in the Bible. However, the way we use the word discipleship today is clearly a biblical concept.

My own definition of discipleship is that it is the process of becoming more and more the person Jesus has called us to be as his followers. It’s about growing as a Christian and it is a process that is never complete in this life. The teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, and the teachings in the letters in the New Testament, are about walking on the path of discipleship as a follower of Jesus.

I find that to be both challenging and exciting. And if you are like me, sometimes it’s three steps forward and two steps back – but the result is that we are making progress. Discipleship is about learning from the Bible how we are to live and putting what we learn into practice.

I conclude with a quote from McGrath’s opening paragraph about discipleship, “It is about a conscious and committed decision to be followers of Jesus Christ in every way possible, including the way we think, love, and act. It is about growing in our faith, as we quest for wisdom rather than the mere accumulation of information about Christianity” (p. iv).

It’s a journey worth taking.

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photo credit: Evan Courtney The Journey via photopin (license)


We’ve read and heard a lot about identity the last few years. Along with many other possibilities, people discuss racial identity, gender identity, and identity politics. Earlier this week I read that dictionary.com named identity their Word of the Year for 2015.

It also seems like I hear and read a lot about people who experience what is called an identity crisis. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced an identity crisis, and hope I never do. I’ve seen enough TV shows and movies to know amnesia would be awfully frightening. I also have been around enough people with Alzheimer’s to pray that the Lord protects me from it.

So who am I? I know a variety of factors contribute to my identity; and I’m fairly certain it’s the same for you. Three big aspects of my identity right now include being a grandpa, a high school Bible teacher, and a pastor to senior adults. But I’m also a racquetball player and a golfer (but not really that good in either sport). In terms of a lot of current discussion I am white, male, and politically none of your business.

I am also a husband, father, brother, friend, citizen of the USA, Ohio State University and Dallas Cowboy football fan, dog owner, neighbor, and resident of Texas. I could go on, but I think you get the point. I am a lot of different things to different people. But who am I to me?  Is there something that is basic and at the core of who I am? Is there anything that is most important in terms of my identity?

Challenged by some things I have recently read and heard, I’ve been thinking lately about my identity. I hope it won’t surprise readers who know me to read that I think the foundation of my identity is in two areas: I am a child of God and I am a follower of Jesus.

In a very real sense, every human being is a child of God because the Bible teaches that every person is created in the image of God. Some may not accept that, and many do not act like it, but I believe it is true. While every human being is a child of God, not everyone is a follower of Jesus. Being a Christian is a choice one makes for herself or himself.

As we go through life some aspects of our identity change. Some readers probably remember going from being a teenager to an adult; or from a student to an employee; or from being single to being married; or to becoming a parent. One of the greatest adjustments of my identity took place almost three years ago when I stepped down as senior pastor of the church I served for 30 years. As challenging as it was, I didn’t see it as an identity crisis.

I’m fulfilled and enjoying who I am at this stage of my life. And I know more changes lie ahead for me. But what will not change is that I am a child of God and a follower of Jesus.

Who are you?

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Photo by Warren Wong on Upsplash