A rabbi was to model how to live by using examples from his own life . . . Speaking of our tendency to imitate . . . I find that my own mind seems remarkably malleable, impressed by whatever I read or see modeled around me. A steady diet of cynical political commentary always makes me more negative. Being with friends who gossip can make me more careless about how I speak. None of us is so mature that we cannot be influenced. The question is: Who or what do we want to shape our lives? Even the culture around us will try to "disciple" us if we have not placed ourselves under the transforming influence of Jesus Christ.
I used to think . . . that Jesus' command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them to accept Christ as Lord, and then educating them in doctrinal truth later on. Though all these are important, this way of defining discipleship showed that I, like many Westerners, approached the gospel primarily as information. Unfortunately, such an approach tends to produce efforts at evangelism that are thinly disguised power grabs. We try hard to foist our belief system onto others, debating with people until they declare our way the best.
An Eastern view of discipleship seems far more in keeping with the gospel . . . This approach involves not just information, but transformation. God's goal isn't simply to fill the world with people who believe the right things. It is to fill the world with people who shine with the brilliance of Christ.