Bible Reading: Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 11:19-26
I remember when my wife and I had our first child, and then one day while taking a little walk with our two-or-so month old daughter, some overzealous street uncle walking towards us does that thing of tapping the baby’s checks and says ‘fine boy, how are you?’
Typical Nigerian parents then would usually then go ‘she said she’s fine, thank you’.
There were two reasons why he didn’t get any such response from us though: first, we didn’t consider ourselves to be typical Nigerian parents- we have always felt strongly that if you want to address us, you should face us squarely and do that rather than facing our kids to initiate conversations with us (that includes teachers in school giving children homework that is so bulky and difficult). The second reason though was that my wife found it very annoying that he would ignorantly call a girl ‘fine boy’- she felt that he could at least go by the fact that the baby had earrings on.
That notwithstanding, there are other things that our baby could be called that wouldn’t have been wrong. While some things would be outrightly wrong, some might just not be the most accurate or appropriate term.
Think about that- he could have come along saying ‘Little future woman’ or ‘first child of your parents’, or ‘person with the smallest hands in the Moody’s house’, or ‘human being’. If he did, he probably isn’t wrong but there could probably have been better ways to put it.
You see, when it comes to this thing of being a follower of Jesus, there can be many words and expressions that describe that life: ‘Christian’, ‘follower of Jesus’, ‘born again’ (or a ‘burn against’, based on your attitude and passion towards stuff), ‘the person who has high moral standards’, ‘Church person’, and so on.
But maybe one very underrated word is the word ‘disciple’. I think the word is largely underrated, especially in Christian circles. Disciples were not just the twelve guys who went everywhere with Jesus; Jesus sees everyone who has put their faith in him as a disciple.
A disciple means someone who is committed to following and learning from another, fully embracing the trainings and disciplines therein.
Jesus actually commanded his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Matthew 28:19 NKJV
His command was not just to plant churches or to recruit church attendees. It was to make disciples.
To be a Christian must mean that we are committed to following and learning from Jesus, and fully embracing the disciplines and trainings that the journey brings.
The truth is that the greatest joy and delight in following Jesus comes when we understand ourselves to be disciples and live with that strong consciousness. Whether or not you are called ‘disciple’, we must never forget that we are called to be disciples.
Over the next five days, we want to put ourselves in the beautiful spotlight of one of the most profound and accurate words by which a christian can be described, and propel ourselves stronger on that journey of being disciples.
Talk about learning from the best- is there any greater privilege we can have than to say we are ‘disciples of Jesus’?