Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Thoughts on Discipleship Part 1

I've been thinking a little bit about discipleship. What is it, really? Am I doing it? Should I be? What should it look like?

First of all lets talk about being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I mean really, it has to start there. In Matthew chapter 8 there were a couple of people that wanted to be disciples. I think that was a fairly common thing in that time. John the baptist had disciples. Most of the "teachers of the Law" had disciples. People that followed around their disciple-er and learned from him and imitated him. There were a lot more disciples than just the 12 around Jesus. From what I understand, disciple means: One who follows one's teaching. So to be a disciple of Jesus seemed to be the thing to do at the time.

One of the teachers of the law (also called a scribe) wanted to be a disciple. "Let me follow you around!" (paraphrased by me). To which Jesus replies (not paraphrased) "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." What?? So what are we to make of that answer. Obviously, you couldn't be following Christ around and expect to have a nice cozy, safe place to sleep every night. Hrm.

The next guy says "I want to go and bury my father before I go" and Christ replies "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." are we to take that. (by the way, the basic understanding is that the guy's dad wasn't dead and waiting to be buried, but he was older and the guy wanted to stick around until he died...and THEN follow) So apparently, Jesus didn't want that guy to wait. He wanted him right then.

So what can we take from this? What was (is) the cost of following a man like Jesus? Simply liking His teaching? Being an active listener and trying to apply these amazing "truths"? Or is it more than that?

Let me suggest that it is in fact MUCH more than that. Jesus was expecting his followers to be willing to sacrifice comfort. Willing to sacrifice stability (in a worldly/wealthy sense). Willing to sacrifice safety in terms of always having a roof over your head. He expected followers to leave behind whatever worldly attachments they had.

Then, a few chapters later, Jesus gets super clear as to what he expects of a disciple. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Um. Alright.
This is radical.
This is not "oh, I like Jesus...he's a good teacher and taught us a lot about treating others how you would like to be treated"
This is what it looks like to truly be a disciple of Christ. So now what? How for real am I about being a disciple of Christ? How well do I know what he says? More than that, how well do I apply it?

Do I turn the other cheek? Do I walk 2 miles when unfairly asked to walk 1? Do I pray for those who hurt me? Do I judge others? Do I visit those in prison, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, tend to the sick? Am I storing up treasure in heaven? Am I free from worry? Am I doing the will of my father in heaven? These are serious questions because if I am not doing those things, if I am not forsaking all for the call of Christ, if my life is no different internally and externally from one who is not a disciple, then can I really call myself a disciple? What am I willing to sacrifice. How radical am I willing to be in following Christ and His teachings. `

Let me tell you my answer. I have not been radical enough. A diligent enough student. More of my energies go to just doing my day to day than to pursuing my Teacher (and Savior and Redeemer and Friend) I want to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Do you want to join me?

AUGH! There is so much more I want to say on this subject. So many more thoughts running through my head but if this gets any longer, no one will have the fortitude to read it and I'll never get it posted. It has already taken me an entire day just to get this much down. So...I will post other installments for those interested in reading at a later date.

Disclaimer: I do not think you have to be perfect to be a disciple of Christ. I do not thing that we earn our salvation or earn favor with God by doing things better. This is a conversation regarding following the teachings of Christ after one has already put their faith in Him and His work on the cross. This is not legalism. I hope that is clear. Let me know if it isn't.

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