The Truth about Guilt Meditations: 35. Guilt of Blindness – to Jesus’ Call
Mk 1:17 Come, follow me,” Jesus said
Ezek 22:30 ‘I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Continuing: Failure, and consequently guilt, comes in many different ways, as we have been seeing already. Usually it starts in the mind and is soon expressed as actions. They may be one-off failures or they may be ongoing failure. So many times, I believe, we grow to tolerate the behaviour and fail to realise that it is something that falls short of God’s desires for us, and is therefore, sin. Some things are just the way we view life, quite possibly because we have never been taught otherwise. The responsibility on leaders to teach the flock and turn them into an army is great. Failure to do that results in the subject we are tackling today – the failure to see ourselves as disciples.
Church of Disciples: The Church is made up of disciples. Every true Christian is a disciple of Jesus. The so called ‘’Great Commission’ at the end of Matthew’s Gospel spells it out: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, / baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, / and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19,20) I have divided that sentence in three parts.
i) Followers: First, we see Jesus instructing his disciples/apostles with him there to continue his mission after he leaves them. They are to make disciples out of all nations. In other words his goal is the entire world. He didn’t come just for Jews but for the whole of the rest of the world as well, i.e. the Gentiles as well. But see the thrust – they are to make disciples from all nations, i.e. the whole world. Now the dictionary definitions of a disciple is in general terms, “a follower or pupil of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.” Now the very nature of a disciple is that they follow someone else, someone who is leading the way before them, and they will thus copy them, learn from them, and become like them, and do what they do. That is at the heart of discipleship. Note the three things there – learn from them – become like them – do what they do.
ii) Distinct: Second, the call of Jesus in the Great Commission is to make those disciples distinguished from all others, different from all others, committed publicly to be these specific people, and they start it by being baptized. In the New Testament, baptism was by immersion under the water and that was to be a picture of what had happened and would happen to the disciple – they had died to self and the old life (and were buried), and they were raised from the dead to live new God-centred lives, God-empowered lives, God-directed lives, God-serving lives, world-blessing lives. That is how distinct they are to be.
iii) Taught: The content or detail of that distinctiveness is to be found in the teaching of Jesus, but that teaching wasn’t just intellectual, it was practical, it was about how to live out these new lives, and how to serve God in this new walk with Him: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Two parts to that: a body of teaching (that we find in the New Testament), and obedience to it. Thus disciples are committed to learning all that Jesus taught (do we make that a central focus of our lives?) and then doing all he taught (do we make that the joint central focus of our lives).
Outworking: But of course it isn’t just following the ‘rules’ of his teaching, because his teaching was all about a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So we relate to and honour and worship God the Father, we are seated alongside God the Son as he rules in the midst of his enemies, working to bring in the kingdom or rule of God until the time when he will complete that work and hand it back to the Father (1 Cor 15:24,25), and we receive power and are enabled and directed by God the Holy Spirit to live it out here on earth. Disciples relate to the Trinity, to the Godhead. This is our perspective for our lives and anything less than this, is missing the mark.
Inadequacies: If we see our lives as Christians as those who turn up on a Sunday morning, or whenever else the church meets, and simply imbibe the worship, the prayers and the preaching (and let’s not mention ‘the Notices’!) – and that’s all – we are falling seriously short of the will of God. The concept of church being ‘the body of Christ’ is a concept of related people with different giftings who inter-relate with one another to do the works of Jesus (see Lk 4:18,19 & Mt 11:5) or as Paul puts it, “the works of service” (Eph 4:12) that he expects all believers to be doing as envisioned, equipped, and enabled by the ministries of v.11.
And So? Perhaps the easiest and most brief summary question would be, do I see myself (when I am being honest) as [GROUP ONE] a pure spectator who is required corporately to sing, give, listen, or individually to have a quiet time that involves brief prayer and Bible reading, OR [GROUP TWO] as a gifted member of an inter-relating gifted body who are together seeking to be disciples. In this second group, as Jesus said, we will be people who say we fit the category of “whoever believes in me,” who will respond to his teaching and leading and “will do the works I have been doing.” (Jn 14:12) If we’re only in the first group, we have some repenting to do.