Our dear friend Charles Kridiotis is based in Stockholm and kindly agreed to write down his thoughts on a subject which is often overlooked within Church life. We have known Charles and his wife, Carolyn for over thirty years. I honour Charles because he is a practitioner of his teaching. This following is the first of three posts on discipleship.
ARE YOU A DISCIPLE OF JESUS?
I once asked one of my sons, ”Are you a Christian?” His reply was an immediate “Yes!” I then followed up with another question, “Are you a disciple of Jesus?” He looked a little dumbfounded and asked me what I meant by that. When I explained he honestly replied, “No, I cannot say that I am a disciple of Jesus.”
Let me explain. Not many are aware that the term “Christian” or “Christians” is used only 3 times in the New Testament. It was a name given to followers of Jesus by non-believers. Jesus used different words to describe his followers. The apostles and the early Church too had a different vocabulary. So too today in other parts of the world where vibrant and radical Jesus movements have taken root.
The following is a list of the words most often used to describe followers of Jesus in the New Testament.
“Believer or believers” (and variations thereof): approximately 67x
So, it is quite clear that those who had repented of their sins, placed their faith in Jesus, were baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, subsequently filled (baptised) with the Holy Spirit and joined into God’s ecclesia, had a different vocabulary when referring to one another. Semantics do play a role; they give a good indicator as to our belief systems and behaviour as a result. The repercussions and consequences can be enormous! They can determine whether we are fully (or partially) living a life in Jesus and the Kingdom of God; or being a convert to a religious system and worldview with little evidence of personal transformation and even less impact on the world around us.
A disciple is, by definition, a “learner.” This learning is centred on the person of Jesus the Lord and the Kingdom of God. Now, learning Jesus and His Kingdom does not “just happen” – it involves deliberate attitudes and intentional actions that conform us to his image. It is a learning that involves a continual symbioses and interaction of our heart (being), our mind (knowing), and our hands and feet (action) as we respond to God.
FOUNDATION AND FUNDAMENTALS
In this particular message I do not want to take up how disciples are made but instead look at foundations and fundamentals on which discipleship is built. Jesus, what he did and said, is of course the foundation. Jesus reflected in every way the heart and will of his Father. He only did what he saw his Father doing and said what his Father was saying. Now Jesus said many things as he went about doing good, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching his disciples. But there are two (or three) standout things he said, namely:
The Great Commandment and, what we call, The Great Commission.
No big news here – everyone is aware of what they are. But let us visit them again and make some observations.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37 – 40)