Discipleship, a primary vision and value of Christian spirituality, is the essence of Christian life. Spirituality in the Christian sense is not reducible to devotional practices or an abstract framework of beliefs. Discipleship is a way of life; it encompasses each detail of daily living.
A disciple is a learner. The relationship between Jesus and His disciples, however, is deeper than a teacher-student relation wherein wisdom or teaching is passed on. Jesus’ disciples absorb a way of life alongside Him, their teacher. Hence, a disciple is also a follower.
The concept of discipleship has two related elements. The first is a call to a change of mind and lifestyle in response to the incoming reign of God. As Jesus proclaimed, ‘‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news’’ (Mk. 1:15). The second aspect of discipleship is to adopt a way of life and to join in the work of building the Kingdom of God. ‘‘And Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people’’’ (Mk. 1:17). The disciples would now live like Jesus and join Him in His work.
Becoming a disciple of Christ is not like a seeker’s quest for a wise and reliable spiritual teacher. It is not a matter of choosing to sit at the feet of a teacher until we have gained autonomous wisdom and are ready to move on. Jesus chose and called His own disciples (Mk. 1:16–20; Mt. 4: 18–22). Discipleship has many dimensions; here we have considered the first aspect. Discipleship is not self-chosen, but a response to a call, a response to God’s grace. The grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ is freely available to all. Those who respond to His call, follow His ways of love, truth, peace, justice and reconciliation. Does our way of life reflect His ways?