Summary: Disciple, follower, or both? Discerning your call to discipleship. Discipleship is becoming. Discipleship is showing up.
Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathering them around, He taught them saying:
BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK. BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN.
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
BLESSED ARE THEY WHO THIRST FOR JUSTICE.
BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN PERSECUTED.
BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN YOU SUFFER.
BE GLAD AND REJOICE, FOR YOUR REWARD IS GREAT IN HEAVEN.
Then Simon Peter said, "Do we have to write this down?"
And Andrew said, "Are we supposed to know this?"
And James said, "Will we have a test on this?"
And Phillip said, "I don't have any paper."
And Bartholomew said, "Do we have to turn this in?"
And John said, "The other disciples didn't have to learn this."
And Matthew said, "Can I go to the boy's room?"
And Judas said, "What does this have to do with real life?"
Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus' lesson plans and inquired of Jesus, "What are the objectives in the cognitive domain and your plans for remediation?"
Lessons in life, and who better to answer those questions and teach the disciples than Christ himself. Today our scriptural heading in our reading tells us, ‘Jesus calls his first disciples’. Today I want to focus on one word from that heading, that word is 'disciples.' So, let’s think about this for a moment, is there a difference between a follower and disciple? Google suggests the difference is that a follower is (literally) one who follows, who comes after another, while a disciple is a person who learns from another, especially one who then teaches others. A disciple, one that learns from others, and especially one that teaches others.
Christ goes on this mission to gather disciples. And, what kind of people does he pick? Pharisees, elitists, and scribes? NO WAY! He wants some normies… some everyday normies like you and I to be His ‘fishers of men.’ He chose ordinary commoners like us to be his disciples. Yes, again, these were everyday people like you and me. The commonest of the common. The ‘sinniest’ of the sinners (I know I made up that word). Some were pesky tax collectors who were among the most despised people in Israel. Several of them were fisherman. Not a prestigious gig, and from Bible literature we know that often meant long hard days some without a catch. Others whom Christ chose were farmers from rural areas. And… he even chose one who He knew would turn out to be an enemy-- a traitor. That gives us a good idea of the type of people he chose, he picked people with typical failings. Yet, we can see these men are used by God in uncommon and remarkable ways.
Disciple or Follower
I think it is probably fair to say that most, if not all of us here today, are followers of Christ. So, how do we know who gets chosen to engage in that deeper level of discipleship?
In Matthew 28:19-20 Christ commands his followers, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”
Followers making disciples of all nations… That sound like a lot of disciples. So, what about little ole’ Kingsbury church? Especially, since we only have about twelve, give or take a few, of us go to church here on any given Sunday?
I am going to argue that there is not room for us to simply be followers. We must all be disciples. Not only teaching and learning from one another but reaching out to do the same in our communities. Many of you already participate in the role of ‘disciple,’ so take a deep breath, I am not planning to over-burden you with an increase in your responsibility. I know many of you already feel overloaded… but, for some of you there is potential.
We all must accept our role in discipleship, which is not only a willingness to follow the teachings of Christ but to share His teachings and works in ‘deed and action’. To learn from one another, which includes being willing to listen to one another.
I thought back to services last week while writing this and chuckled a bit. There were about twelve or so of you who sat in the audience last week-- all women. So being in a church that promotes fairness and equality, I figured if all you women are ‘disciples’ we are promoting equality and balance out the twelve disciples Christ—All men. So, yes, women, you ALL have to be disciples.
Call to Discipleship
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.