Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Called To Be Disciples

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit — Matthew 28:19 (NASB95)
The way to Christian growth is often to allow oneself to be puzzled and startled by new apparent complexity … Is it, after all, Jesus we want to discover and follow, or would we prefer an idol of our own making? – N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus (InterVarsity Press, 1999)
The question posed by N.T. Wright is important. We Christians are supposed to be followers of Jesus. We all know it. We claim it, teach it, preach it, and expect it from the people we know who also claim to be Christians. But the real question is, “Do I follow Jesus?”

Our first reaction might be something like surprise. “Why, sure I do!” we exclaim. But when we examine that claim, it sometimes falls short. Jesus said in Matthew 10:25 (NASB95) “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. . . .” Therefore, the real test of discipleship is how much we’re like Jesus. The more we’re like him, the better a disciple we are; the less we’re like him, the greater the failure at being his disciple. Seems like a pretty easy test doesn’t it?

Of course, that means we need to know a lot about Jesus. We need to know the man, know his thoughts, his attitudes, his habits, behaviors, beliefs, and more. I believe the word “apprentice” may be one of the best words in our modern language to help us understand the idea behind the word “disciple.” An apprentice has the goal of becoming like his master. He learns the master’s skills and seeks to duplicate in his own life what he’s observed in his master’s. An apprenticeship usually takes years. There is no shortcut. It is demanding work, and must deal with multiple failures, producing things not quite up to the master’s standard.

Unfortunately, too many Christians aren’t much like the one they claim to follow. They know little about him, and if you were to look to see how much like Jesus they are in their lives, you might see very little. Perhaps the biggest reason is that so many seem to want to invent their own Jesus to be like. The original is of little interest to them. Maybt they think it’s too hard, too time consuming, too demanding.

Make no mistake, real disciples are people who are becoming like Jesus. It’s not that they have to already be successful, with no more growth required. It’s that they’re well on their way. You see them, you see Jesus. This should be our goal much more than other identifiers. We love to call ourselves “members of the church,” and that’s surely accurate, but it’s not our best identifier. You’ve been called to be like Jesus, not to membership.