The Call to be a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ

2010/03/03 at 10:25 上午 發表留言

Excerpt Taken From Fatherly Talk

Dearly Beloved

The vast majority of Christians today are believers or converts and not disciples. Yet the command of our Lord Jesus Christ was not to make converts but rather to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). A convert or believer looks forward to receive from our Lord Jesus Christ but a disciple looks forward to give and truly follow in the footsteps of Christ. Of course, we all do know that no one can live the Christ-life except as Christ lives within us (Galatians 2:20) but the key is that ‘Christ DOES live through us." Many who called themselves Christians are not interested in Christ living in them or being like Christ rather all they want is the benefits of Christianity.

When people wanted to follow after Christ saying that he would follow him wherever He goes, Jesus immediately pointed to the cost of following Him (Luke 9:57-62).To one Jesus reminded that He the Son of man had nowhere to lay His head upon, to another Jesus said that He is to let the dead bury the dead and to yet another Jesus said that no one, having put his hand upon the plow looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said that to be a disciple one must neither just look at the benefits of following Him, nor be involved in activities of the spiritually dead, nor be looking back and longing after the things of this life or the world. Indeed, those who love the world or the things of the world do not have the love of the Father in their lives (1 John 2:15-16). Indeed, when Jesus spoke of discipleship, He expects that those who chose to follow Him would have love for Him so great that in comparison of their love for Christ to those of their father, mother, wife, children, brother, sister, and their own life, too, it would be equivalent to hate! (Luke 14:26). For those who can’t raise their love for Jesus to that level, Jesus considers that they cannot be His disciples.

To Jesus a disciple is one who can bear the cross (Luke 14:27). What is it to bear one’s cross? Jesus illustrated it with the cost of discipleship as of a builder who counts the cost and as king who counts the cost. There is a cost of discipleship. The cost of discipleship is the cross – which represents the placing of our whole spirit, soul and body as a sacrifice to God and Jesus. The cross was Jesus giving His life for us; our personal cross is we giving our lives to God and to others. At the heart of discipleship is the love of God. Without the love of God, we cannot be disciples. God so loved the world that He gave His Son (John 3:16). Jesus so loved us that He gave Himself to us (Romans 5:5-8). As disciples we continue in the same flow of God’s love and love others the same way Jesus loved (John 13:34-35). A true disciple of Christ is a disciple of God’s and Christ’s love.

After Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He took time off to minister especially to Peter who had denied Him three times. He took Peter aside and asked him three times whether Peter loved Him . We know that the first two times, He used the word ‘agapao’ and the last time He used the word ‘phileo’ while Peter’s answers were all in the affirmative using ‘phileo.’ The real question was not just whether Peter loved the Lord; for Peter himself reacted strongly saying that the Lord knows all things and that he did love the Lord (John 21:17). Peter was grieved that the Lord had asked him three times (John 21:17). To Peter, it seemed as if the Lord doubted his love for Him. Moreover, the Lord did persist in asking Peter of his love for Him three times. Imagine, Jesus asking us three times whether we loved Him; a question like that from Jesus even one time would have been heart-breaking enough. In fact the first question was phrased differently, it was ‘Do you love me more than these?’ It is possible that Jesus was either comparing Peter’s love with all the things around him or even that Jesus was asking Peter whether he loved Him more than everybody else. The Greek word ‘touton’ translated ‘these things’ is a masculine or neuter word and can be translated ‘these things’ or ‘these people.’ The Bible is very clear that Jesus expects that our love for Him will be more than our love for others (Luke 14:26; Revelation 2:4). It is also possible that Jesus might have asked Peter three times not consecutively but spaced out throughout the entire time He was with the disciples.

Imagine having the Lord Jesus come to ask and asking us whether we love Him once; then again after a few hours, and then later still towards the end of the day. Peter was freaked out. He knows that the Lord knows all things. To be asked the first time by the Lord Jesus Himself would be pretty demoralising if we do not have our lives right with Him. To be asked three times! Wow, that takes the cream off the cake. No wonder Peter was grieved when he was asked the third time (John 21:17). The Lord, of course, knows that Peter loved Him. Why then did the Lord asked Peter whether he loved Him? It was to prepare Peter to love others. When we love God, we will love others; it is the spiritual law (1 John 4:7-11). After Peter had affirmed to Jesus that he loved Him, Jesus told Peter that he had to die for Him. Peter would have to love Jesus so much that he be willing to die for him. He would have to love Jesus so much that he would be willing to die to bring the gospel of love to others. True discipleship is that our love for Jesus and others becomes so great that we are willing to sacrifice our life in love to others (1 John 3:16).

The one commandment that Jesus gave His disciples was to love one another (John 13:34-35). Not only was this His commandment to us but it is the main distinguishing mark that He wants us to be known by the world – by THIS shall all know that you are My disciples! By this commandment of love we shall be known to be His disciples. Discipleship is thus not just working signs and wonders alone. It does include that, of course, but the main thing that Jesus wants us to demonstrate in such a manner that the world can distinguish us is our love. It is not just teaching and preaching, either. It includes that, of course. It is the practice and discipline of love that is the true hall mark of a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After making His super defining statement of what true discipleship is (in John 13), Jesus went on for two more chapters of the Bible to talk about this commandment of love. In the context of John chapters 13 to 16, the commandments referred would have to include the commandments to love God and to love one another as Jesus had done. We can allude to the fact that Jesus was painting with broad strokes on all the commandments of God but contextually, we need to see that this was a special conversation privately given after Jesus instituted the new commandment of love that establishes His standard of true discipleship. In John 14:16, Jesus said that if we love Him, keep His commandments. This would mean that if we truly love God and Jesus, then we should truly love others as well. John the apostle, himself, understood these words to apply to the commandment to love for he speaks in his epistles of the commandments of God (new and yet old commandments) the essence of which is to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves (1 John 2:3-10). The key that John the apostle sees as important in Christianity is that we should love our brother for to hate or do anything else is to walk in darkness (1 John 2:9-11).

If the call to discipleship is a call to love, why is it then that there is so much lack of love in many quarters of Christianity?

1. We have either strayed away from the commandment to love, replacing it with other commandments that put other things before love. We have turned the unconditional love of God into a conditional love. All the replacement commandments have a tendency to make the love of God more inaccessible until very few people qualify to be loved by God or hence be able to love others in return. Thousands of years after Moses, the Pharisees have turned the commandments of Moses into heavy burdens that they themselves can’t fulfilled but expect others to fulfil (Matthew 23:1-4). They were no longer interested in the commandments of God themselves but were only interested in pleasing men and positions in the religious and secular world (Matthew 23:5-6). In the end they had neglected the weightier matters of the commandments like justice, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23). Likewise, the modern church has added so many sub-clauses to the laws of righteousness and neglected the most important bulwark that holds the laws of righteousness in place – the love of God (Romans 5).

2. The proponents of the replacement commandments have themselves not experienced God’s unconditional love. We can only love in proportion to how much we have been loved (1 John 4:11, 19). Also there is a lack of the true knowledge of God, we know about God but we don’t know God. For to know God is to love. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).

3. There is a lack of true discipleship to love in the church. We are discipled in doctrine, in gifts, in works and to do all the various aspects of the work of the ministry. But we neglect the most important discipleship program – teaching people to love, making them disciples of love. It is not easy to love just as it is not easy to do many other things in God’s kingdom. Yet, there is almost no training program for Christians to be taught how to love one another.

4. It is costly to love another person. True love costs something. It cost God the Father His Son (John 3:16). It cost Jesus His life (Romans 5:6-8). We are all afraid of paying the price to love others. We know that love would make a demand of our time, our resources and our energy. And for fear of the cost of the sacrifice of love, we choose only to mildly love others according to our convenience; rather than loving others to the hilt.

The question we ask ourselves this week is "Are we disciples of love?" If our answer is anything but the affirmative "Yes" then we have not truly followed even the first and most important covenant commandment Jesus gave us, "Love one another as I have loved you and by this all men shall know that you are My disciples" (John 13:34-35).

If there is a willingness in our heart to love people, God will bring people into our lives to love. We are God’s eyes, ears, hands and legs on earth to show His love. We are the members of His body, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones (Ephesians 5:30). It is only through us that God can love the many individuals on this planet. To love and help the entire world is beyond any one of our capacities but to help those within the circumference of our life and influence is possible. And it is only through our love that the world can see that we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ.

In Christ Jesus

YUI – Feel My Soul

已經厭倦了哭泣 在沒有答案的地方
就算迷失也好 被絆倒也好 都不能把腳步停下來

觸動了我的心 也治癒了那深深的傷口

I feel my soul Take me your way 那唯一的事情

這絕不是因為偶然 那份愛也絕不虛偽
You’re right all right
You’re right all right Scare little boy

試過一次又一次 怎樣也沒法前進
但你那溫柔對我細語的聲音 令我一直愛戀著

I feel my soul Take me your way 絕不會回頭

一直置身在單純的痛苦裡 想知道生存下去的意義
You’re right all right
You’re right all right Scare little boy

那安撫我的溫柔說話 you say it
就算我動不得也好 看不見也好 你都會為我開路

I feel my soul Take me your way 也許會在艱難之中

這絕不是因為偶然 那份愛也絕不是虛偽的
You’re right all right You’re right all right

一直置身在單純的痛苦裡 我想知道生存下去的意義
You’re right all right
You’re right all right Scare little boy


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曉樂說 Alice in Wonderland


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