Discipleship, in the Christian sense, means to follow Jesus Christ. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible gives this description of a disciple: "Someone who follows another person or another way of life and who submits himself to the discipline (teaching) of that leader or way." Everything involved in discipleship is spelled out in the Bible, but in today's world, that path is not an easy one. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus tells people to "Follow me." He was widely accepted as a leader during his ministry in ancient Israel, large crowds flocking around to hear what he had to say.
Obey My Commands Jesus did not do away with the Ten Commandments. He explained them and fulfilled them for us, but he agreed with God the Father that these rules are valuable. "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." (John 8:31, NIV)
He repeatedly taught that God is forgiving and draws people to himself. Jesus presented himself as the Savior of the world and said whoever believes in him will have eternal life. Christ followers should put him first in their life above everything else.
Love One Another One of the ways people would recognize Christians is the way they love one another, Jesus said. Love was a constant theme throughout Jesus' teachings. In his contacts with others, Christ was a compassionate healer and a sincere listener. Certainly his genuine love for people was his most magnetic quality. Loving others, especially the unlovable, is the greatest challenge for modern disciples, yet Jesus demands we do it. Being selfless is so difficult that when it is done lovingly, it immediately sets Christians apart. Christ calls his disciples to treat other people with respect, a rare quality in today's world.
Bear Much Fruit In his final words to his apostles before his crucifixion, Jesus said, "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8, NIV) The disciple of Christ lives to glorify God. Bearing much fruit, or leading a productive life, is a result of surrendering to the Holy Spirit. That fruit includes serving others, spreading the gospel, and setting a godly example. Often fruit is not "churchy" deeds but simply care for people in which the disciple acts as Christ's presence in another's life.
Make Disciples In what has been called the Great Commission, Jesus told his followers to "make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19, NIV) One of the key duties of discipleship is to bring the good news of salvation to others. That does not require a man or woman to personally become a missionary. They can support missionary organizations, witness to others in their community, or simply invite people to their church. Christ's church is a living, growing body that needs the participation of all members to stay vital. Evangelizing is a privilege.