Chinese Translations: GB Big5

Calling Disciples

Along with preaching the good news, Jesus also calls disciples to follow him. He has a ministry to the multitudes. He has a ministry to a large group of disciples, and he has the twelve apostles. The twelve he trains for leadership on a more individual basis. Yet the apostles he chose seem to be not particularly outstanding, but rather ordinary and common. They had not been professional religious leaders. In fact they were so common as to be despised by the religous elite. But perhaps the idea is that leaders should be common, ordinary Christians. And perhaps also the lesson is that common, ordinary Christians should all be involved in making disciples.

One of the main distinctions between Biblical Christianity and Post-Biblical Chrisitianity has been the division of laity and clergy in post-Biblical times, which seems rather absent in Early Christianity. An "Elitist" Attitude has characterized post-biblical Christianity which has resulted in the supression of the maturity of the believers and contributed to their unfruitfulness. "Ministry" has been view as limited to an "elite" few who are simply financially supported by the "laity" who are viewed as stupid sheep incapable of doing much more than listening to the "eloquent and wise" lectures of an "enlightened" clergy. This is what Judaism had become in Jesus' time. But the elite religious leaders became Jesus' chief enemies.

The model that Jesus proposed was for everyone to follow his example. He never built a building or established an institution - although he was not against that option. Post-Biblical Christianity tends to be built on a corporate model, emphazing programs, institutions, buildings, while individuals are devalued. But Biblical Christianity makes much of the individual. Biblical Christianity is modeled on the Family. Church planting today is focussed on establishing an institution in a new location, which often involves building a building before a "church" is consider planted. But to establish a family is a bit different. The focus is on relationships rather than programs. Parents know who their children are. They know they have authority and responsibility over them for their edification. But under the corporate model, who are the parents? As in Israel in Jesus' time, institutional leaders are more like impersonal corporate CEO's, getting paid for their job. But there is not the intimacy nor the sense of commitment and responsibility to the individual as parents have for their children. They are more like the hired hands than the shepherd.

In following Jesus' example, the believer not only ministers to the multitudes, but also focuses on particular individuals. One man - twelve disciples, this is the kind of model that Jesus presented. But this presumes that there are people who are willing to be discipled. I find such people to be rather rare today. For it implies taking on a degree of submission to human authority which is rather distained even within the Christian community. Recent converts must be willing to be discipled on an individual level or within a small group, just as in a family, else they are not completely following the model that Jesus had presented for the Christian life. The disciples committed themselves not to an institution, but to an individual. Both the disciplemaker and the one being discipled should have these attitudes. But I have met Christians who have been so influenced by the corporate model that it even has affected their view of parents responsibility in raising their children. They believe that most parents are incompetent as parents and that only a few elite people are competent to raise children. And thus they believe that parents should give up their children to be raised in an institutional setting by "professionals". This is a reflection of the contemptuous attitude the elite religious leadership has historically had towards "ordinary" Christians, and it is also a reflection of the lazy, irresponsible attitude of ordinary lay Christians.

What is the objective in making disciples? Is it simply for their own personal edification? Growing in maturity is certainly a part of it, but the objective is to make one effective for service. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (Mat 4:19) In the narcissist society in which we live, Christians have too little concern over the question, "What does God want me to do?" and more obsessed over issues of how they feel about things. This is the age of "feel-good" Christianity. "Freedom in Chist" becomes the practice of lawlessness, and "Submission" is akin to "slavery." But it is written, "He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." (2Cor 5:15) Thus the Christians involved in minstry should be able to approach young believers with the proposition, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." For so said the Apostle Paul, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (1Cor 11:1)

Just as Jesus was rejected at times throughout his ministry, so you also will be rejected when make such propositions. They will say, "You are not Jesus. You are not Paul. Who do you think you are that I should follow you?" But we are simply those who follow Christ's example in submission to his commands. "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Mat 28:19)


Verses quoted from the NIV version

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Oct 25,2011