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  • Writer's pictureJill Jarrell Newsome

Volunteer Or Disciple

Years ago my parents went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. Our minister said you could go as a tourist or a pilgrim. The difference is the tourist’s experience starts when they arrive and they just see the physical trek. The pilgrim focuses attention on the whole journey, even before they arrive. I remembered this in 2018 when Mike and I were blessed to go to the Holy Land with our church. I like the way someone put it, “both are on a journey. Whereas a tourist is satisfying the senses, a pilgrim is in the quest of the truth. A tourist gets tired and tanned, while a pilgrim sparkles with spirit.” I think the same is true with a volunteer vs. disciple.

According to the dictionary a volunteer is a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task. A disciple is one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as Christianity. A disciple is devoted to their teacher and they learn to emulate their teacher's life. Jesus taught us the definition of a disciple in the Great commission. He sent apostles out to spread the gospel. Matthew 28: 19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Mark 16: 5, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Jesus also called his disciples to be witnesses. Acts 1: 8, “‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”

Discipleship means a personal and passionate devotion to Jesus. Once we have the Holy Spirit in us we want to live for Jesus. It becomes our passion. We can admire Him and respect Him but we cannot love Him on our own. When we follow Jesus, it comes with love, sacrifice and lots of blessings! "Discipleship is living everyday to the glory of God in front of other people and inviting them to join you on the journey." unknown

Serving God is so much more than a volunteer job. God calls us to serve in His church using the gifts that He gave us. I do not believe that Jesus envisioned the church as a gathering place for volunteers picking and choosing how we will serve. We are to be the "Body of Christ" which means Christ's work is carried out into the world. Apostle Paul taught that we should use our gifts for building up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4: 7, 11-13, "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it....So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

How do we become a disciple? We simply respond to Jesus’ invitation. Decide to be a disciple. That is all Jesus’ first disciples did. They had no idea what they were doing - they simply followed Him. Several of the disciples were fishermen and God used what they knew. Matthew 4: 19-20, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” He will do the same with us. He will take what we know to help us witness to others. Please pray about where God needs you and sparkle with the Spirit!


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