[This post is part of the ‘Getting Back To Basics’ Series.]
If I bumped into you on the street and asked you ‘who is that behind you?’ what would you say? Realistically, I’m guessing your immediate answer would be to say ‘no one’ or to think that I’ve just spotted a stalker!
If time travel were possible, or we both lived a couple of thousand years ago (and you happened to be an early Christian), then your response to my question would probably be completely different.
Times have changed… or have they?
When Jesus first said ‘follow me’ to his disciples it was a call to become his one of his students, to learn his teachings and to live his way of life. But disciples much were much more than just students, the term infers much more personal contact than this. You can see by the way Jesus spoke to his disciples and the way they describe the relationship in their writings.
Jesus called them and they followed. He walked and they walked behind him, following his every step.
They lived in his world, spent times together, they discussed the things of God and how to live for God.
It wasn’t just Jesus twelve that we’re called disciples.
Early on in Christianity, after Jesus resurrection and before the name Christian was common place, the followers of Jesus were all called disciples. One example of this can be seen in Acts 14 where it describes Paul and Barnabas preaching the gospel and ‘making disciples’ where it says;
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Paul preached and he made disciples, even in the face of great trials and persecution. If you bumped into Paul walking down the street and asked him who it was that was following him, he may very well say ‘that’s a disciple’.
One of the churches that Paul established was in the city of Corinth. The way he related to the members there was to encourage them to imitate or follow him, as he imitated or followed Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 says;
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Paul was by no means perfect, but he was confident of his way of following Christ. He was so confident that he actually told people to look to him for the way to follow Jesus.
All this is challenging for the modern disciple.
Jesus told his disciples to make disciples. He commanded them to preach the gospel and to those who respond, to make them students, pupils, protégés of his ways. Paul’s example of this was to exemplify the way to follow Jesus so well that he could take personal responsibility for what this looked like.
All this raises questions and makes me think soberly; Who are the people that I am being an example to of how to follow Christ? Who are those that I am personally taking responsibility for, to teach to obey everything that Jesus commanded? Do I know and understand everything Jesus commanded? Am I living such a life that I could confidently say, follow me as I follow Christ.
My response; I stop and I look and see if anyone is behind me.
How do you respond? Let me know in the comment section below.