Why not call this “Christianity” instead of Discipleship? Because the word has been watered down until it is not always understood as it was in Acts 11:26. “Discipleship” is a more confrontative and challenging term, and cannot be so glibly claimed today.
The following number of blog posts will be devoted to different aspects of Discipleship as seen through characters from the Bible. Note that there will be only one New Testament disciple in the series reviewed in these posts. That is because Old Testament saints were disciples as well as New Testament people. All of God’s people of all time are or must become disciples, in the essential meaning of the word.
For discipleship is not something we also are, as one may think of ego in relation to career. As if a bricklayer were also a disciple. Ideally, we are disciples who are also bricklayers, or whatever. All of life is a religious act. “For me to live” is not to lay bricks, but personhood is realized not first of all in our career but in our position before God in Christ. That is the qualifying factor in us, making all of life subject to Christ, making all of life informed by Christ, sanctified and ennobled, given purpose and value. That’s what you see in disciples, and that’s the best of all lives.
It’s not only the best of all lives; it’s in fact the only real life there is. All else is at best only existence, and at worst, death. Only in Christ shall all be made alive. Besides this, discipleship involves four additional elements: 1. A ready and total recognition of the imperious claims of God in Christ. 2. A commitment to learning to recognize and pursue the divine will and purposes under which we are called to live and serve. 3. Acceptance of life’s challenges and sufferings, blessings and opportunities, with a victorious faith in God through Christ. 4. The resolution and faithfulness to exhibit Christ in all our relationships and personal qualities by our witness and life-style.
Each of these elements will appear in the characters with whom we will seek to identify in our next studies.
I. Responding to the Sovereign: Moses, The Making of a Disciple
Already in Exodus 2:11-15 is a hint of Moses’ dream of liberating Israel. But it was ruined by his approaching it as an Egyptian rather than as a disciple. His basic presuppositions as to method, resources and authority were all worldly, not godly. Hence, God rejected his efforts, and Moses is exiled. Still, he was God’s man of the hour, and God would not discard him. God had grand purposes for Moses. He would be used, but only after God had fitted him for all that was at stake.
Each of us, like Moses, is a special product of divine workmanship, prepared for God’s special time. The same factors are at work in our being made disciples.
The Cosmic Element
In Pharaoh’s edict to kill all the male babies born to the Hebrews, we see the clash of cosmic forces: Satan and Pharaoh vs. God and Israel. The edict is absolutely fundamental: Satan’s desperate, grisly attempt to stop the redemptive swell that will whitecap at calvary. He knows by now the Redeemer is to be born from Israel. Therefore, destroy all males, prevent any more births, stop the Seed of the Woman. Later, God shows Satan his folly by revealing that the Seed is to be born of a virgin anyway! (By the way, Satan is the “cosmic idiot”, fighting Sovereign God. But he can’t help himself. He HAS to play the cosmic fool, for sin has done its work in him. An angel sins; he can’t be anything but a devil. A human sins; he can’t be anything but a rebel – until divine grace breaks through.)
Long before Psalm 2 was written, it is being worked out in Egypt. We are part of a “Pharaoh’s edict” work, a part of a Psalm 2 world, and our call to service and discipleship must be seen in the light of cosmic issues. We are called to fit into the supernatural, behind-the-scenes warfare, and we will not fully understand our calling and the importance of our discipleship if we fail to see this.
The divine supremacy: He that sitteth in the heavens….will laugh them to scorn. The Virgin birth is the divine laughter at the impotent edict. Our discipleship also is divine laughter at the counsel against the Lord and his anointed.
Moses’ rescue: Another echo of the scornful laugh of God. Pharaoh decrees all boys shall be thrown into the river to be destroyed. God counters by placing this special boy in the very palace of Pharaoh, to be prepared in a special way for God’s victory over Egypt. In a way, a cosmic joke. But far more: God’s sovereign overruling of the strongest anti-Christ forces in creation – Satan and Egypt. Moses is to face cosmic odds, but God is backing him up with cosmic will, power, and purpose. If Satan and Egypt cannot prevent discipleship, nothing can. The purpose of God is impregnable. And, in that purpose, so are we.