In my last post I wrote about the need for Christians to commit differently. I suggested that 2 big problems in the church today were people overcommitting and committing to the wrong things. While programs, ministries and being intentional in what we invest in are important, I believe walking closer to Jesus should be an even higher priority for believers in our church communities today.
There are many people in our congregations who have no time for Discipleship
While we live in a very different time and culture to that of Jesus and those who followed him, we should not disregard how they did discipleship. I really think that understanding what it meant for those who responded to Christs call back then, will help us today.
Rather than bombard you with 20 more paragraphs of information about the life of a student, the pursuit of a Rabbi/teacher and how picky they were with choosing followers, if you have a heart for coming along side others and are keen to see a culture of discipleship in your Christian community, then I really want to encourage you to do some research. I have found learning about this stuff refreshing, confronting and life changing as I continue to work out my salvation and help others do the same.
“Follow me”. These words of Jesus can be read a number of times in the Gospels and are still being heard all around the world today. In chapter one of Mark verses 17 &18, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew casting their nets and told them that he would send them to fish for people. At once they followed him. Not long after in Mark verses 19 & 20 Jesus calls two more blokes.
The call to follow Jesus was not some casual thing where you could come and go as you please, not if you were committed. The ministry of Jesus lasted 3 years, but if he was a normal Rabbi just doing the cultural/religious thing, the disciples would have followed longer. Another thing which we find hard to grasp in our culture today is the intensity of their journey to making disciples themselves. They would have spent many hours with Jesus. Praying, eating, resting, talking, walking and all the rest, (as well as the amazing stories that we read in the Gospels) all with the purpose of learning as much as they could from the one who called them. They were learning to be like Jesus.
The Hebrew word for disciple is talmid. This word stresses the relationship between rabbi (teacher or master) and disciple (student). A talmid of Jesus’ day would give up his entire life in order to be with his teacher. The disciple didn’t only seek to know what the teacher knew, as is usually the case today. It was not enough just to know what the rabbi said, but the foremost goal of any talmid was to become like the rabbi and do what the rabbi did. – That the world may know.com
How powerful is that definition and description of the word Talmid! I have read it a number of times over the last month and the more I read it, the more I see that I am far from the type of disciple I would like to be. As I have been reflecting on my own level of commitment to Jesus Christ and hearing other peoples faith journeys over the years, I have come to the understanding that there are more Christian bystanders than passionate disciples in the body of Christ today. It seems that many would rather follow Christ at a distance.
We are to count the cost of following Christ when we hear his call. When we read what Jesus says in Luke about being a Disciple , it would be easy to throw our hands in the air and walk away feeling completely defeated because its all to hard. We all know Christians who believe in Jesus, but when it comes to the thought of walking more closely, well that’s another story. Look at the types of people that Jesus Christ called in the gospel. We would all fit in real good with that bunch.
Being a bystander in the body of Christ is far more costly than being a talmid. If we are a Christian and spend time getting to know Christ we will see that he was way more than just a spectator. He invited his disciples out of their comfort zones to participate in his ministry as well. The church is not in the dark about how we should go about living.
Choosing to live as less than a disciple in the kingdom of God is not a salvation issue, its a relationship one. A relationship with the one who calls us to follow him, the author of our faith, the one who lived, died and was resurrected to show us a way and restore us and our relationship with God. It would make sense to walk more closely with the one who has done all that. When we decide to play it safe and watch on from our comfortable positions, we miss out on experiencing the peace of God, we fail to understand the spiritual blessings that we have been given and we often live as if we were never born again.
There needs to be a change of culture in our congregations that see people from all walks of life becoming more intentional about following Jesus. So I encourage you who are already working out what it means to be a talmid, to seek out those in your Christian communities who appear to be disengaged, and invite them with you on the journey of the Christian journey.
Thanks for reading and as always, if you found anything that you have read helpful, or have your own insights, please leave a comment.