When we talk about Disciples, we're not talking about 12 middle-aged guys with British accents walking around in robes and sandals following some caucasion version of Jesus across the eastern landscape of a movie set. We like wearing sandals, but we're not real keen on robes and don't have British accents... and yes, we're still disciples...
At Sanctuary, our working definition of a DISCIPLE is:
Someone who LOOKS and LIVES more like Jesus EVERY DAY and LEADS OTHERS to do the same.
LOOKS is all about identity. Who we are as a result of Whose we are. There comes a time in life when we realize that, on our own, our identity is narcissistic and defective. This is when an invitation to something different comes our way. Through the sacrificial and substitutionary death of Jesus, we are given a chance at a new life - and consequently, a new identity. The beginning of discipleship is accepting the invitation to be part of God's family and to follow Jesus - an invitation that is unearned and unattainable on our own. This is what the Bible calls the gift of grace: a new identity as one of God's own daughters or sons - a gift that starts with Jesus.
As our identity is rooted deeper and deeper in this gift of grace, our LIVES begin to change. The Spirit of God begins to shape our character to look more and more like the life of Jesus. We begin to think differently, act differently, react differently, desire differently, see differently, love differently - we begin to take on the image of Jesus and we grow deeper in what it means to let our lives be led by his life.
This process of transformation is an EVERY DAY engagment. It doesn't happen as a result of an 8 week class on the basics of Christianity. It isn't accomplished as a result of a confirmation program or ccd. It isn't complete when we climb to the top of the church ladder and become an elder, deacon, priest or pastor. It is an everyday transformation that continues everyday - until the day that God finishes it by taking us to paradise.
Additionally, this process has a naturally cyclical growth to it that begins to LEAD OTHERS into a similar journey. As our look (identity) is rooted deeper in the gifts of God's grace and truth, changing our lives (character) to be more and more like Jesus' everyday, the reason for our existence begins to gain clarity: To be a vessel through which God gives these same gifts to others - our kids, our spouses, our neighbors, friends, coworkers...
And, quite naturally (like seeds falling from a tree in the breeze), the whole process begins afresh in the heart of someone else = transformation.
To help people in this pursuit is the ONLY reason Sanctuary exists.