Jesus used two defining words for calling people to become disciples. The words were Follow Me.
And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
We learn a great deal about discipleship from these two words. First of all, discipleship involves a relationship, and not a superficial relationship. If you are following someone then you are seeing them in virtually every life situation.
Follow Me is also a very clear picture of repentance and faith. After all, if you follow Jesus you will have to stop going the way you have been going. This is repentance. Faith is demonstrated when we choose to follow Jesus because we believe that His way is the right way. Wherever He goes we will go, and whatever He says we will do. This is also a great picture of following Jesus as Lord!
Fulfilling the Great Commission means that we are sharing the gospel and calling sinners to follow Jesus. When they repent and believe the gospel, we set a pattern of life so they can follow us as well. That means that we establish a relationship with them so that we can help them grow in their love and obedience to Christ.
Paul said it this way:
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
We can use various tools in our effort to disciple others, but we cannot divorce it from a discipleship relationship. Once again, the apostle Paul provides a beautiful example of what biblical discipleship looks like.
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
1 Thessalonians 2:7–8
All believers are to be actively engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission. Take time to consider the relationships you have with others. Are you setting an example they can follow and are you imparting to them both the gospel and your own life?