God amazes me frequently, when I take the time to ponder it all. This week as I am looking forward to preparing for the Disciple I: Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study commencing in September, I am also reading, or more appropriately re-reading The Divine Conspiracy:Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, by Dallas Willard. It is an old favorite that I had not picked up for a number of years. As I was reading through it this weekend, I rediscovered one of the clearest definitions and discussions on discipleship that I have encountered in my years of reading on the subject.
Willard writes: “In summary, then, the disciple or apprentice of Jesus, as recognized by the New Testament, is one who has firmly decided to learn from [Jesus] how to lead his or her life, whatever that may be, as Jesus himself would do it.” (p 291)
And that according to Willard is for each and everyone of us who through our baptism is called into ministry for God in our place and time. It doesn’t matter whether you are a school teacher, an accountant, a car salesman, a computer programmer, a gardener, a sales associate, a farmer, a stay-at-home mom or dad, you have a call to follow Jesus. What matters is that you “work as Jesus would do it.” (p 286)
How would Jesus do it? The Gospel accounts are very clear on this: “he lives in the kingdom of God, and he applies that kingdom for the good of others and even makes it possible for them to enter it for themselves…It is what he calls us to by saying, “follow me.” (p 282,283) So, according to Willard, as disciples we are not learning how to do special religious things, but we bring our whole life into line with Christ.
And it is important to say that whether you have just begin your journey in the footsteps of Jesus, or if you have been following for many years, you are a disciple. There are no distinctions of experience or age or skills or talents in the kingdom of God, for we all are there by the grace of God through Christ Jesus.