Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Whose disciple are you?

I read earlier today that John Piper is a disciple of Jonathan Edwards. I’m not sure if that is true but I wondered why anyone would want to be a disciple of another man.

As Christians, we should be disciples of Jesus. There is nothing in Him that I wouldn’t want reproduced in my life. As far as other people go, they are all imperfect. Luke 6:40 says: A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Do I want to be just like another person? A word of warning: watch out for the person who thinks you should be their disciple; they may have a too high view of themselves.

There does seem to be a long standing desire for Christian people to have a label. Lutherans, Wesleyans, Calvinists and Baptist are a few examples. In 1 Corinthians 1:12 Paul talks about the problem: I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas. He asks the question: has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you?

Maybe it’s easier to live under some of these labels than to live as a Christian. It may be easier to believe what your church or pastor believes than to take the time to find out what Jesus wants you to believe. Now I’m not saying that what these labels represent is completely wrong. What I am saying is that we need to follow Jesus first and be willing to dump anything that doesn’t line up with him. If we did that, it would spare us from so many of the faddish beliefs that infect the church so often.

To be specific, the word disciple in the New Testament means a pupil or learner. So in that sense anyone could be a disciple of another person if we are learning from them. My point is that ultimately we must be disciples of Jesus; we must be learning from Him and the Bible so we know if what other people are teaching us is true.

Discipleship is a lifelong process; it’s not easy and it takes a lot of effort. Here are a couple of verses that sum up the goal. John 13:35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 15:8: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. So it’s not what I know that matters but if I have love and fruit. That both simplifies it and makes it harder.

Here is a list of the fruit of the spirit I should have: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Thankfully, my salvation is not determined by my possession of these attributes but my lack of them says something about what kind of disciple I am. May the image of God be perfected in me.

Philip

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