(My thanks to Michael W. Foss, for inspiring this week’s study on the discipleship. Those of you who are able, can pick up a copy at Bethany for a discounted price of $10.00. It is also available at Amazon.)
We are called with an inner hunger. As one who knows Jesus as Messiah, this call is put into words and content through a relationship over time. We receive invitation to go beyond simply attending a church service – we are compelled to share what this experience is like. Let me give you an example:
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
Philip answers Nathaniel’s longing with an invitation, “Come and see.” Today our culture is skeptical at best and synical at its worst with regard to faith. Discipleship is not even on the radar of most people. For years Western Christianity has focused on attendance or decisions for Christ but has forgotten the marks of discipleship and need to invite and mentor others in the faith. When was the last time you shared your faith with someone or invited them into a deeper spiritual experience of the Messiah?
What Philip did was to invite Nathaniel to experience a deeper joy and an authentically healing life. This call is not merely for the select clergy establishment. It is a call that comes through baptism and makes the life of the disciple an ordination into a relationship with the Risen Christ. It is not cost free. It is not a bed of roses or tiptoeing through the tulips.
Foss put it this way, “You know, life should never be defined by the work we do. Our lives ought to define our work.” The call of Jesus is not merely a job. We have two distinct choices – two masters to choose from – God or yourself. The “marks” of discipleship are not so much a gauge to judge people by, as they are practical life applications that help to shape the relationship of serving God as master vs yourself as god. The marks we will consider in the days ahead are: prayer, worship, reading of the Word, serving, nutritious relationships, and generosity.