God’s plan for humankind has always been simple and laid out for us in His Word. Yet, the execution of this plan seems to be a problem for humans in every generation. God’s plan for people to be saved through baptism and holy living has consistently been met with resistance from a world that continues to reject the Savior and to establish their own rules. In their rebellion, people have come up with a carnal view of Christianity: by rejecting God’s expectations of His creation, people havecheapened God’s grace.
This concept of cheap grace should be worrisome to all. Dietrich Bonhoeffer helps us understand this term by defining cheap grace as “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship….” Bonhoeffer understands the world’s emphasis: it stresses the benefits of Christianity without the cost involved. This cost is best seen in God’s call for us to be “Disciples of Christ” (Matthew 28:18-20). Now, the term disciple has often been oversimplified and overlooked, leading manyto think they are disciples while they fail to conform to the biblical standard of discipleship. If failing to be a disciple violates the command of God, it becomes paramount to our Spiritual life to understand what it truly means to be a disciple.
By definition the Greek term μαθητής (mathetes) simply calls to mind “a learner.” W.E. Vine appropriately adds to this definition, stating a disciple is “…not only a pupil, but an adherent.” Discipleship requires more than knowing the facts: it speaks to total, life–changing adherence to a teacher. Jesus draws this idea out further when He gives the example that a disciple will grow to be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Discipleship calls us not just to be as knowledgeable as our teacher but “like” our teacher; that is, we are to conform even to the teacher’s lifestyle and habits. John calls this concept “walking just as He walked” (1John 2:6) and Paul commands even our thoughts to be like Christ’s (Philippians 2:5). Complete and utter imitation is the goal of a disciple. Jesus further shows us the expectations of a disciple, stating that if the master were to be called Beelzebub, it is expected that his disciples are to be called the exact same thing (Matthew 10:24-25). The reason for this conclusion is thata disciple should be the representation of his teacher. Thus, the essence of discipleship is the art of imitation “because as He is, so are we in this world” (1John 4:17)(see also 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Corinthians 4:15-16; and Philippians 2:5).
As we begin to scratch the surface in understanding discipleship, we begin to see the definite need to self-reflect. In self-reflecting, we reach a deeper understanding of what our relationship with Jesus should be. Since a disciple is one who becomes like his teacher in both the way he thinks and the way he acts, we must follow the example Jesus set for us and we must adhere to the teaching of His word. Failing to live the life, then, clearly is a chief way of cheapening God’s grace.