Don’t Be Afraid to be a Disciple

How well God must like you – you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust –
Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.  —  Psalm 1 (The Message)

Lectionary texts for today: Acts 1, Psalm 1, 1 John 5, John 17

Sometimes the paraphrase of The Message Bible is just the way I need to consider God’s Word. It brings a smile, even a chuckle, with it’s modern words, and then I go back to my usual NIV or CEV Bible and give the passage another read, or two, or …

The Lectionary texts for today are all about being a disciple. One of the passages, John 17, has always spoke to me about the difference between a Believer and a Disciple.

A Believer is one who accepts that they are a sinner in need of a savior in order to have a relationship with God. They believe that Jesus is God-in-the-flesh and that He came to earth to be the perfect blood sacrifice which atones for all the sins of God’s children, past, present and future. A Believer continues to study and worship God and desires to live a life that brings glory to God.

A Disciple is a Believer who desires to share what they have been given in Jesus with others. Jesus said in John 17 that a disciple seeks to learn and live His teachings. Their lives are to be lived in unity with all Believers. Disciples will be hated by the world because the world hated Jesus. And so with His death coming quickly, Jesus asks the Father to protect His Disciples. Protect those who are willing to be a Disciple.

John’s first letter to the church is one of love. He speaks of God’s love for us and says that unless we love our brothers and sisters who we can see, we cannot love God who we cannot see (1John 4:20). If we study the Disciples’ lives, we know the life of a Disciple is not easy by the world’s view. Sickness, death, conflict, all that is found in the world can be found in the life of a Disciple. The key difference is how we live through this world. We live as Jesus lived. Not without suffering, but live with the strength and power of God’s Spirit inside of us.

A pastor, Dr James Allan Francis, wrote in a sermon in 1926 about Jesus in one of his sermons:

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

Jesus promises me, His Disciple, an abundant life (John 10:10). It is not a life of worldly abundance, but a life of spiritual abundance that can influence those we meet in this world, as we share with them the abundance of life following Jesus. Our one solitary life. Affecting the world.

The following song may be secular but it expresses much of what I have felt since I made the decision to be Jesus’ Disciple. It wasn’t fate. It wasn’t luck. It was Father God, loving me before I even knew I loved Him.

The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me written by James D. McCarthy & sung by Gladys Knight

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