Yesterday in our series following Jesus I explored how rabbi’s in the time of Jesus called and developed their disciples. It sheds huge light on our understanding of discipleship. We saw how discipleship is so much more than the transfer of information. At a much deeper level it is the transfer of a way of life. This cannot be learnt in a classroom. It is the product of example and imitation. You can listen to it here.[audio http://www.burlingtonbaptist.org.uk/podcasting/150112am.mp3]
The idea of example and imitation fills the New Testament. Here are a few verses to reflect upon. As you do you may like to ask the two questions I posed:
- Who are you discipling?
- Who is discipling you
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 (NIV)
4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words (INFORMATION), but also with power (EXAMPLE), with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake (IMITATION)
6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NIV)
16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NIV)
7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you,
8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.
9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.
Philippians 4:9 (NIV)
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
2 Timothy 3:10 (NIV)
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,
1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
If you compare the other accounts of the calling of the disciples it is clear from John 1 that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, and with his brother Simon he had approached Jesus because they believed he was the messiah. From Mark 1 we learn Jesus actually called his disciples after John the Baptist had been arrested, so Jesus wasn’t calling people he didn’t already know (also in Luke 4 Jesus visits the home of Simon before calling him in Luke 5).
In terms of getting to know people is there a way of identifying people at church with similar interests?
Regarding imitating someone and following them, it isn’t practical to literally live with someone as the disciples lived with Jesus. Is there some technical way – I’m thinking of something similar to twitter – of following someone ?
One other thought, I notice in John 1:41 that Jesus appears to like the name “Andrew” as he didn’t change change it 😉
The idea that Jesus had prior knowledge of the disciples before calling them is in keeping with the typical rabbi-disciple relationship of the day. To me, the thought that Jesus chose the disciples even though he knew them well increases the sense if wonder that they (and us) were chosen.
Living with someone may not be practical but I think extended family is. We need a rediscovery of this. The oikos (extended family) is a key size of community in the NT. Our culture has lost touch with this I will try and blog about this more soon. I talked a little about it when I preached on Paul’s missionary journeys in The Story series last year.
No organised way of getting to know other people’s interests I’m afraid. Just organic! As for the role of technology, closed social media groups can be useful. There are some in operation at Burlington Some churches have built their own software to do this. Whilst I use skype for coaching etc the kind of imitation and example development that Jesus modelled requires nothing less than ‘real’ relationship.