Discipleship is a decision to become a Christ-follower. He has extended an invitation to follow Him. Shall we take it?
4 “Let all who are simple [unlearned, undisciplined, and prone toward ungodly habits and tendencies] come to my house!” –Wisdom [God’s perspective]
9 Instruct the wise [those who want to learn] and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous [made so by Christ] and they will add to their learning.
Young Christians: Are you being discipled by anyone? If not, why not?
Mature Christians: Are we discipling anyone? If not, why not?
- A failure on the leader’s part: “There is no one to lead us.”
- A failure on the follower’s part: An unwillingness to be discipled.
- It could be a mixture of the two.
Today, we will discuss the part of the young Christian.
A disciple of Christ is willing to put himself/herself under the tutelage of a mature Christian for learning. It can be a prescribed period of time. The early church leaders called this relationship, The Catecumenate-“Hearing the Word” (from The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, page 152). Instruction was called, “catechesis,” and the candidate was called a “catechumen.” The sponsor (mature Christian) and the catechumen had a master-apprentice relationship and could last for up to three years. At some point, the sponsor would present the catechumen to the church leaders for evaluation. “The sponsor has to affirm that the candidate has changed: not only the candidate’s thinking (that was the easy part), but also the candidate’s behavior, character, and reflexes–in short, the candidate’s habitus.” “It wasn’t the candidate who answered these questions; it was their sponsor, their accompanying advocate.” pg. 153.
I wonder what would happen if we all had to go through such a rigorous process in order to join our particular group of Christians: How would a “sponsor” describe us? Would our “habitus” be different enough from the world for us to be considered for membership? Have our thinking, behavior, character and reflexes (what happens to us when we are surprised or caught off-guard) been transformed by the Spirit of Christ? According to history, candidates didn’t get to worship with the church, but only with other candidates. Neither did they get to be baptized or partake in the Lord’s Supper until they were considered for membership. They really wanted to be part of the Christian church! Why? Because Christ lived in their hearts and their sole desire was to be like Him, so all the teaching and the rigorous training were exactly what they wanted.
How about us? Is being just like Jesus exactly what we want? Are we willing to go through such training and teaching to learn Christ? This is the question of the ages and the question for the current church–for us.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” — Paul the Apostle (Acts 20:24)
Abba, I realize that in some ways I have an advantage over most folks in that I am encouraged to study and learn in order to help lead the church. At the same time, You know that I answer every day the same question that everyone answers: “Will you follow Me?” Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving me the privilege to be Your disciple. May I lead others to the same decision; may they find the love, joy, peace, hope, grace and truth that has sustained me and calls me homeward. I, too, count my life worth nothing to me except to complete the task You have given me. Use me up, Lord; I am Yours to do with as You see fit. Amen.