Ray Vander Laan, who i’m obviously going to refer to A LOT (he goes by RVL), says that our definition of discipleship is radically different from that of Jesus and his contemporaries. How we define it, how we think about it, how we measure it… from then to now — RADICALLY DIFFERENT. He would even say the biggest difference between how we define something and how the the world of the bible would define somethings is our definition of discipleship.
So how do we define discipleship and what do we think about discipleship?
A disciple is someone who knows what their teacher has taught them. For Christians this is about learning the teachings of Jesus I assume. So when we are teaching a discipleship course, or reading a book on discipleship for the Christian this is about not learning what that writer or that Sunday school teacher is teaching but it’s about learning what Jesus is teaching us through the scriptures and through His Church. Right?
I think this is a fair approximation of our western idea of discipleship, knowing the teachings of Jesus. We might be tag on… so you can live your life accordingly. What you know should shape the way you live.
That’s what it means to be a disciple.
RVL would say this isn’t even the start of what it means to be a disciple. Knowing what the teacher teaches or knows is just the prerequisite. To be a disciple is to follow the teacher so closely that you get covered in the dust he is kicking up while you watch every move he makes and take in every word he speaks so that you can, not just know what he knows but so that you can do what he does, be who he is.
In the world of Jesus a disciple was on a journey to be like the rabbi / the teacher.
Not just to know but to be like in every possible way the teacher you, as a disciple, was following.
And a rabbi only let you follow him if he believed you were capable for doing this.
This is the journey discipleship.
And what makes Jesus’ invitation “Come follow me” so profound.
What are you aiming for?
Are you just trying to know the teachings of Jesus? Memorize some verses, familiarize yourselves with his teaching and “understand” them?
Are you trying to learn everything you can, know every step Jesus took and takes, be familiar with every interaction recored, know every word he spoke SO THAT you can be like him, do what he did, interact with people like he did and most importantly love people like he loved people.
And don’t forget the mystery of the Christian faith, the center of all Christian discipleship… actually knowing HIM! The risen Christ. And being lead by His spirit
This is discipleship.
How different is this than your concept of discipleship?
My mind goes a lot of places, asks a lot of questions after reading this.
Can anybody really be a disciple in this day and age, in America? Is anybody really a disciple? Do i know any examples? Do we take up our cross and follow Jesus — living uncomfortable, unpopular, unsuccessful, reviled and spit on kinds of lives? Cause Jesus did. Can any of us say with Jesus “the son of man has no place to lay his head.” Or are we trying to get bigger better houses? Do we turn the other cheek and forgive our enemies, even in our dying breath telling God our father “forgive them because they don’t have a clue.” Do we get angry at fake Christians and hang out with the worst sinners? Do we ask more question and give few answers? We do love recklessly and give more than we even have? Do we look and peoples heart rather then their careers, cars, reputation, or status? Are we gracious, hospitable, intentional, relational, missional, pure and simple? Gulp?!?!
I could go on but these are just a few things that i think i am FAR FAR from embracing and living out in my pursuit of Jesus. But i want to be on a journey of becoming a authentic disciple and being empowered by the Spirit to live this kind of Jesus radical kind of life. Maybe this will look a little different for each person (maybe that is cop—out) but for sure it will look radically different than the typical suburban comfortable life that most of us are surrounded by.
Well now i’m rambling but would love to hear some of your ramblings.
What do you think? Discipleship – yes, no, maybe so?
Is true discipleship of Jesus even possible?
// Your turn!