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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, August 17, 2015

True Discipleship

(Matthew 5:1-2 KJV)  And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them…

The reason Jesus put such a high priority on personal discipleship was because it is the most effective way of teaching. For this reason He spent His entire ministry establishing discipleship principles for each of us to follow.

Thousands may have been blessed by Jesus’ teachings, but it was His disciples who actually changed the world. In preparing His disciples for such a world changing challenge Jesus took them through an intense three year training program of “show and tell.” He showed them what to do, He watched them do it and then he left them doing it. The result of such training is still in effect today.

Even though large crowds followed Jesus from place to place in order to sit under His ministry, He still found time to get away and accomplish His first love which was personal discipleship. Jesus had the ability to keep a perfect balance between crowd preaching and personal discipleship.

Often when one thinks of discipleship the picture that comes to mind is a dry theological classroom with an emotionless instructor. That may be true in some cases, but it was certainly not true with Jesus…nor should it be true with us.

I had an experience the other day that seemed to take the theological stiffness out of true discipleship and brought it back to just plan old practical “show and tell” training.

Recently while spending a few days ministering in Owosso, Michigan I was invited to participate in a church outing that was being held by a lake. The setting for this outing was absolutely beautiful. On one side of this lake was a small beach and a dock. On the other side was a gazebo that was surrounded by beautiful shade trees and lawn chairs. The far side of the lake was framed with a field of sunflowers.

As I sat in a comfortable lawn chair under a shade tree on one side of the lake, I was captivated by what was happening on the other side of the lake. The pastor of this church was teaching several little girls (who looked to be about 10 years old) how to fish. He started out by putting bait on their little rod and reels and showing them how to cast.

They were catching small fish as fast as they put their hooks in the water. The pastor would go from one little girl to the other taking the fish off their hooks and baiting them again. I was intrigued by the patience of the pastor and how he was totally focused on teaching these little girls how to fish. He was never distracted by the other activity that was taking place on my side of the lake.

As I sat there watching, I realized that I was seeing discipleship in the purest form. What was being established in the hearts of these little girls was far more important  than just catching fish. They were seeing love and patience in a way that could set a pattern for them to follow when they disciple others one day. I am also quite sure that this pastor will forever be a pattern from which all pastors will be measured by in their future.

I wonder…have we misunderstood what true discipleship is and made it more religious than practical? I wonder. Catching fish may have satisfied the souls of those little girls, but establishing such spiritual principles will forever enrich their lives.

Father,
Help us to put the same priority on discipleship that Jesus did. Lord, help us not to be caught up in the glitz of the mass and miss changing the few. We want to be faithful in discipleship as Jesus was.

Amen

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