Discipleship might be an unfamiliar word for Catholics. It is used often in Protestant communities, particularly the Evangelical and Non-denominational. Yet, it ought to be a word that all Christians understand and hold dear because it describes what we are called to be. From the moment of our baptism the Lord calls us to discipleship; that is, to a life of relationship with God, expressed through learning, prayer, worship, and service to others. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to discipleship. Everyone’s gifts and personalities bring a freshness and uniqueness to it.
Yet, far too many of us don’t take the call to discipleship seriously or we don’t know that we are being called. Poor faith formation can be to blame but, more often than not, it is our own hesitance (even fear) to take hold of the new life God has offered us, one that can only be claimed when we make a fundamental–that is, a head, heart, and gut–decision to follow Jesus. It is, in fact, this moment of deep conviction and commitment that Evangelicals refer to when they ask you “Have you been saved?” Discipling Jesus demands a radical change of how we think about ourselves, others, and God, how we interact with others, how we treat creation, and what we value most. These kinds of changes are frightening for many people.
So how do we make the decision to disciple? We begin to say “yes” to God with our whole self when we acknowledge the need for self-renewal. Jesus is our Lord, healer, redeemer, and savior. With this in mind, take time to ask yourself what about you needs to be changed or renewed? For example:
–Is it your thought processes? Do you often think negatively about yourself and others?
–How are your priorities? Are they inspired by gospel values?
–How about your relationships? Do you need to spend more quality time with those you love, including God?
–How is your emotional and physical health? Are you caring for yourself and letting others do the same?
–Are you sharing your faith with others verbally? Do you bring God into conversations with family, friends, parishioners, co-workers in any way, shape or form?
–Are you sharing your faith with others through actions? Do you take time to serve others in the name of Jesus. Remember: it’s about doing little things with great love
These kinds of questions help us to move forward on the path of discipleship because they focus on the Lord’s work in us and through us. The more we take stock of these things, the more our minds, hearts, and bodies are oriented toward Christ; and soon we find ourselves saying, like Thomas the Apostle, “My Lord, and my God” (Jn 20:28).