Christian or Disciple?

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, October 1, 2020

I am a golfer. I declared that about myself for the first time in 1968. I had loved the idea of being a golfer for 4 years prior to my declaration. Even as a middle school student I knew the difference between saying you were something, and proving you were by your commitment to it.

In 1963 I had discovered an old golf club called a Mashie in a horse barn at a friend’s house. I swung it a few times, and knew it was something I wanted to do. I went home, took my parents wooden croquet set, and hand cut all the mallets off at different angles. It was my first set of clubs. Crude, but they effectively sealed my desire to become a golfer.

My desire sat dormant until 1968, when after a move to a new city, my neighborhood friends urged me to go golfing with them. I said I had to learn the game first. So I went and bought a set of golf clubs for $17, and bought the paperback book “How To Play Golf” by Jack Nicklaus. I hung my dad’s old army canvas tarp over the clothesline in the back yard, and opened the book. Page by page I went, doing my best to imitate everything Jack Nicklaus illustrated in his book.

Every day my friends would stop by on their way to the course and invite me to join them. My response was always the same. “I’m not done with the book yet.”

Finally the day came when I joined my friends on Phalen Golf Course in St. Paul, Minnesota. After completing the round, I declared, “Now I am a golfer.”

My score did not make me a golfer, even though on that day I beat all of my friends. My declaration didn’t make me a golfer, as words are cheap. What made me a golfer was my commitment to invest my whole being into learning to follow the master of the game at that time.

The words “Christian” and “Disciple” have been cheapened by a lack of commitment. People of all ages claim to be Christians and may even claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, but are living without a whole-being investment in following the Master. Carefully read these words of Francis Chan in his book “Crazy Love.”

“Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that He commanded? You’ll notice that He didn’t add, ‘But hey, if that’s too much to ask, tell them just to become Christians – you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything.’”

My golf game today is the product of the commitment I made to learning the game from golf’s master.

My daily life is to be the product of the commitment I make to learning how to live from the Master Jesus Christ. We must not declare ourselves to be Christian unless we can demonstrate a commitment to Christ – to learn from Him and obey what we learn. I’m not a golfer because I only believe in golf, I’m a golfer because am committed to playing golf. In the same way, I am not a Christian because I believe there’s a God; I’m a Christian because I am committed to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no participation in eternal life without a commitment to follow Jesus in this life.

Pastor John