I think there’s a lot of confusion about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. I think we all forget from time to time. I sure do. We “major in the minors,” as one author likes to say. More than one hundred fifty times in the Old Testament, God gives
And so today we remember that discipleship is primarily about a relationship with Jesus. In fact, the Greek word translated disciple, mathetes, literally means “student, pupil, or apprentice.” In other words, a disciple is one who learns. And one cannot learn unless one has a teacher. And one cannot learn from that teacher unless one deems that teacher to be credible and competent. And one cannot know that teacher to be credible and competent unless a solid relationship is built, and trust begins to grow, between the teacher and the disciple. Discipleship, therefore, is always relational.
In fact, a relationship with Jesus is at the heart of Christian faith. In other words, to have faith in Jesus is to trust him – to come to know Him as credible and competent in all matters of life. I think we often suppose that our faith mainly entails an “assent of our mind,” i.e., believing propositional truths about Jesus. No doubt, there are certain truths about Jesus that must be embraced if a relationship with Him is to begin. In other words, it wouldn’t make sense to trust Jesus if I believed that he was a kooky wizard who deceived the masses. No, trusting Jesus only makes sense if I believe in His divinity and in His power to heal both me and this world, for example. But just because faith may entail believing certain truths about Jesus, we should not suppose that faith stops here. If anything, believing truths about Jesus is where faith begins – not where faith ends. For faith is primarily about trusting a living Person – not merely about trusting in some “heavenly arrangement” that this Person has made for us through his life, death, and resurrection. Faith may be a noun – but it’s also a verb. In other words, it’s completely possible to believe all the right facts about Jesus and at the same time never to know Him personally, never to have a relationship. And that would be a shame.
I don’t mean to make light of what God has accomplished for us through Jesus. Quite the opposite is true. I am trying to fully honor what God has accomplished for us. After all, Jesus is still alive and is taking on new students, new pupils, and new apprentices each and every day. And since we all have a mild case of amnesia, we need to be reminded that this relationship with Jesus can make our lives overflow with joy and meaning.
FOR TODAY: Consider what “faith” means to you. Is it about believing a creed? Trusting a person? A little bit of both? If being a disciple is about being a student, what are you and Jesus learning together these days? And as you ask yourself these questions, “remember.”