We’ve been dialoguing about the idea of making a difference. We’ve commented on the role of singleness, marriage and community. I think of these posts as interpreting the “who” and “how.”
Today’s post asks the “what” and why” – what is it we want to change and what is our motivation for doing so? Each person will likely interpret this question differently, and that is part of why working together will ultimately create a greater impact. Such diversity working together, however, creates its own challenges as we learn to relate and work together.
To whom or what are you being discipled?
The apostle John was often referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved” and his basis for community seems to be a quote by Jesus saying,
34 b“just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In light of this verse, it would seem the motivation for community, in marriage or otherwise, is love and that this verb is a distinguishing mark of a disciple of Jesus.
What do you think of when you hear the word disciple? Discipline? There does seem to be a connection (more on this in a later post), but some context and synonyms might help as well.
During the time Jesus was on earth, Jewish people who wanted to learn from a specific Rabbi would choose to become that Rabbi’s disciple. The idea was understood that the learner would be a type of apprentice, studying and practicing, following in the ways their master taught.
Rabbis had different interpretations of the Jewish Scriptures, referred to as the Torah, or the first five books of today’s common Bible. Further, when Rabbis would share a new way of interpreting something, they would say “It has been said, but I say…” This phrase was revolutionary because the Rabbi was claiming to have a new perspective on what was traditionally accepted. In fact, Rabbis making such statements only came along every few hundred years.
Jesus used this phrase repeatedly during his public ministry. He interpreted everything from whom to love to paying taxes in light of a new way of thinking. At the time, it was completely cross-cultural.
Disciples of Jesus then were understood to be those who spent the most time with him, seeking to know how he interpreted the Scriptures, and practicing living in the ways that He did. Primarily, they were learners. Jesus taught many, but he made a distinction between the crowds and his disciples.
Love is the goal
John the Baptist also had disciples, as have many others throughout history. In fact, I think we are all constantly learning, from infancy through adulthood. Sometimes we do so spontaneously, and without much thought, but at other times, we are cognizant, and occasionally even purposeful, in our pursuit of knowledge.
We are all learners. In fact, Adam & Eve’s fall was really their desire to know more than they were ever intended to know. Jesus’ said if we love one another, we will be recognized as being a student of his. This characteristic, as well as its implications, will ultimately influence the “what” and “why” of making a difference. We will as John says elsewhere “love, because he first loved us,” at least sometimes!
As you seek to positively impact the world around you, I wonder…
- Who are you? What unique gifts do you have to contribute?
- Who is around you? In what ways will you work together to make a difference?
- What is your primary goal? What is your motivation for this goal?
- Who can you learn from? Who are they leading you to become?
-Please note my understanding of the word disciple in Jewish/Jesus context was taken from the book Rest, by Keri Wyatt Kent.