Well, the simple answer is that we know we are disciples of Jesus if we are emulating him or doing what he did. We know we are his disciples if we have the same heart of compassion and love that he did. We know that we are his disciples if we know where and when to challenge others so that they can keep growing. We know that we are his disciples if we follow in his footsteps.
But that still brings me back around to the question: How do you know if you are a disciple of Jesus? How do you know if you have the same heart? How do you know if you are walking in his wake? How do you know if you are truly emulating him?
You have to get to know him, and you don’t do that just by hearing about him. Knowledge is more that gathering information. Fully knowing requires a relationship. It requires experience. It requires exposure. It requires an insatiable drive to get as close as you can to the source of your desire.
But how can we know Jesus in a relational way? We can listen to preaching, yes, but that’s simply me opening the door and inviting you in for something deeper.
First, if you want to know about Jesus, you need to learn what others have said about him, and that means reading the Bible. Reading the Bible, even if you don’t understand it all, is our primary snapshot of what Jesus was like on this earth. You don’t have to believe that everything in there is literally true, but you cannot fully know Jesus without knowing what other people knew of him.
Second, if you want to know Jesus, you need to talk to him. That means praying. Did you know that you can talk directly to Jesus? And that he can talk back? There are lots of different understandings of how prayer works and what affect prayer has on us and the world. But, one thing is certain: prayer is the primary way we have to talk to Jesus. And, if we just shut up and listen for a while, we might just hear him talking back.
Third, we need to make the friends of Jesus our friends. That means spending time with other followers of Jesus in community, in study, and in service. We can learn a lot about Jesus by learning from others like us. We can build each other up and hold each other accountable just as his original disciples did.
Finally, we can learn a lot about Jesus by hanging out with people who are not his followers. I read a great quote recently, “Do like Jesus did and spend so much time with sinners that it ruins your reputation with religious folks.” We can learn a LOT about Jesus by not being so uppity about our Christianity, and that means being with people who are totally different than us.
So, are you a disciple of Jesus? Do you truly know him? Are you really in a relationship with him?
If we do not know ourselves, then we cannot identify the places where we can grow.
We cannot know ourselves or be known as the Church until we truly know Jesus. They will know we are Christians by our love. They will know we are followers of Christ by our relationship to him. They will know that we are Christians by our loving relationships with them. The will know because we will know who we are and whose we are.
We know and are known as disciples of Jesus by how we relate to him.