Lessons from a Modern Disciple

September 8, 2013 — 4 Comments

WillardOn three consecutive Saturdays, the Christ Church community celebrated and mourned at the death of beloved fellow-believers. Just prior to these weeks, author and fellow disciple, Dallas Willard died of cancer. Willard was known for his wonderful work of deepening the Christian Church’s understanding of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship.

In light of our fall series, I am a Disciple! I want to share some quotations from conversations and writings of Dallas Willard worthy of our serious rumination.

Disciples of Jesus are those who are with him, learning to be like him. That is, they are learning to lead their life, their actual existence, as he would lead their life if he were they.    (Renovation of the Heart)

The mature disciple is one who effortlessly does what Jesus would do in his or her place.

Willard taught me that a disciple is a student who sits at the feet of Jesus day in and day out. A disciple is someone who is with Jesus, learning to be like him, so that when we encounter the world around us, we do exactly what Jesus would do if he were in our shoes.

We cannot be Christians without being disciples, and we cannot call ourselves Christians without applying this understanding of life in the Kingdom of God to every aspect of life on earth. (The Great Omission)

When asked, “What is death? “ Dallas responded:
Jesus made a special point of saying those who rely on him and have received the kind of life that flows in him and in God will never stop living.

Willard also challenged us to take the Sermon on the Mount more seriously, especially the parts about seeking first the Kingdom of God.  He called it “The cost of non-discipleship,” referencing Bonhoeffer’s famous “Cost of Discipleship.”  He put it this way:

“If you think it’s hard being a disciple of Christ, you should try living the other way. Living to make a name for yourself or secure your own future is way too expensive. Stop now before you ruin yourself utterly. Jesus was talking in these stories about the cost of non-discipleship, and it’s breathtakingly high.” 

“So then, whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord!”  (Romans 14:8)



4 responses to Lessons from a Modern Disciple


    Thank you for your sermon on being a disciple to remind me it begins with our relationship to Jesus and his word first. After being a christian in the church for 38 yrs being a disciple can be confused with “building His church”. Not that the two can’t be mutually what God calls us to, just that the latter can overtake the former so that one loses sight of Jesus in trying so hard to keep the church going for Him. In contrast to my own struggle to keep first things first, the apostle Paul understood this so well. In Phil 1:12-14 it seems he understands that God can use all things in our lives for the expansion of His gospel (and His church) if we seek His perspective……which we can only do if we are doing what you exhorted us to do in this sermon. I have lately been asking myself the question, “Have I lost sight of the gospel of Jesus in my fervor to keep/build the church?” Thank you for helping as I seek Him for my question.
    ….besides it was just good to hear you speak again on being a disciple since having you as a Navigator leader during my college days @URI in the 70’s 🙂


    Thanks so much Dana!
    What a joy to hear from you and be challenged by your timely comment!

    So many blessed memories of you and Dan.


    I remember Life on Life ministry decades ago now in Amherst and New England with you brother. Going back to Haiti at the end of October to help invest in pastors in teaching and processing application. Keeping connections with West Africa in mentoring pastors and helping with much needed funding. I cannot say that being a disciple means that effortlessly I do what Jesus did. I am on that journey continually. His grace keeps me going when my performance is not what it should be. I Corinthians 15:10

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