Thursday, March 16, 2006

Apprentice or Believer?

"Christian" - the word has more than one shade of meaning in our culture today. It could mean:

- A set of beliefs; believing Jesus was the one, true, unique Son of God, sent to redeem the world from our sin; that he was truly God and truly man.)

And that would be pretty good to believe right? Scripture and the creeds teach that.

But scripture says stopping at beliefs is not enough. ("The demons believe and shudder.")
It seems that Jesus intends something more for us than mere "mental assent".

When Jesus was performing miracles, a crowd gathered around him. A crowd that believed he could heal their diseases and drive out their demons. They would listen to his teaching. But that was about as far as the crowd would go.

So he started to hone in on a small group of 12, calling them to "follow me". When he was ready to send out this group of 12, listen to what they did:

"They went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and annointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them." (Mark 6:12-13)

This group didn't simply watch Jesus, they did what he did; they went were he went; they extended and multiplied his ministry. They became his apprentices. (Dallas Wuillard makes a case that we should stop using the word "Christian" because it has become so misunderstood and use the phrase "apprentices of Christ".)

Isn't that what he meant when he commissions them to "go and make disciples" (followers, apprentices), "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have commanded you"?

They became "little Christs" or Christians. They became like franchises of healing, teaching, and preaching.

The world has seen too many "Christians" who are "Christian" in belief only. They knew the right stuff, maybe even read the Bible and went to church on a regular basis. But their lives didn't look at all like an apprentice of Christ. They never really franchised and opened up shop.
They simply knew the rules for starting a new store.

If you consider yourself "Christian", during this Lenten season I invite you to examine what being a Christian looks like in you. Ask God to search you and show you what He sees "being Christian" looks like in your life.

This radical call of apprenticeship and franchising isn't simply for a few. It isn't meant for the pastor and a couple of super Christians. It is the call He gives to all of us. "Follow me". "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me."

The promise for all who become his apprentices is that he will put the Spirit of the Living God in their life; the same Spirit that empowered Jesus to do miracles. The same Spirit that directed Jesus to go where he went. The same Spirit that guided Jesus to teach and preach the words he said. That Spirit is available, offered, and desperately needed to be Christ's apprentice; to be a franchise; to be Christian. That Spirit is available to you!

If you say "Yes!" to this invitation, you will find yourself on the greatest adventure of your life; the road you were created to be on. The journey of a Christian.

Grace and Peace

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