There seems to be a lot of confusion among believers today about what characterizes a true disciple of Christ. However, the world has a pretty good idea of what a true disciple should be like and they are quick to point out the shortcomings of “Christians” they know.
It’s a sobering thought to know the people around you are looking for proof of your relationship to Christ. How does your walk hold up under the scrutiny of those closest to you? Do you bear the marks of a true disciple in such a way as to be recognizable to those you come in contact with day after day?
The Two Most Important Marks of All
Centuries ago, the experts in Jewish law took the Ten Commandments and over time expanded them into 613 laws. Jesus, however, took the Ten Commandments and summed them up into two: love God and love people.
By summing the Law up in these two commandments (Matthew 22:34-40) Jesus was not doing away with the Law; He meant that all other commands are contained in these two.
When an expert in the law asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36), He answered by quoting the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), a basic confession of faith in Judaism that calls the people to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. This answer is what the lawyer expected.
How did Jesus say others would know that you love God? One is our love for each other, which we will talk about in a moment. But Jesus also said obedience to His commandments proves your love for God. (John14:15) Our motivation for obeying God is our love for Him. The two go hand in hand and cannot be separated!
This kind of love is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling that gives you “Holy Ghost bumps” when you think of God, but is a life expressed in action – serving and obeying! This love involves an absolute surrender that dominates your emotions, directs your thoughts and determines your actions.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. – Galatians 2:20
Our love for God is best expressed through our undivided allegiance to Him and whole-hearted devotion. As we study the Word of God and learn who God is and what He has done for us, the supernatural result will be to love Him with all our heart, all of our soul, all of our might.
This kind of love will so permeate our being that our lifestyle and our worldview will be totally, radically focused on Him. And everyone around us will see it.
The lawyer probably expected Jesus to say to love God, but what Jesus said next surprised those listening and changed the course of history! Not only were God’s people to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, but they were to love others as themselves.
The Scribes and Pharisees were great at keeping the letter of the law! They saw it as a checklist to prove their righteousness, and many of them were not above trampling on people to get there! Jesus, however, identified the Law’s purpose as a guide to remind us to love God and to love people.
A deep sense of gratitude for what God has done for us should motivate us to love Him and others; thus both loving God and loving people are at the heart of our faith.
The result of loving God is that you will love people. And loving people is the way to show the world that you love God (John 13:34-35).
Loving people isn’t always easy, in fact its hard work and can be extremely messy! It’s only as we love God that we are able to love man!
Love is also about meeting needs. How do we show the world the love of God? By meeting the needs of the people around us.
Love is an action word. We show our love for God by obeying His words. How else would our love for God be measured? The lawyer understood the implications of both of these commandments, which is why he tried to get out of obeying. (Luke 10:25-37) It was not new information the lawyer needed, but a new heart. It’s only as we love God that we are able to love man!
How are you doing? In what ways is your love for God evident in your life? Are you meeting the needs in the lives of the people God brings into your life? Are you loving God by loving your neighbors?
Ask God to show you how to meet the needs of your family, your co-workers, even your neighbors. Then go out there and love your neighbors as yourself!
The Bible gives us a very clear picture of God’s criteria for a true disciple. It is our responsibility to study His word to gain a clear understanding so we can be recognizable to the watching world. Our 40 Minute study Loving God and Others looks at how these two commands define the heart of a true disciple.