After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him,
I was challenged over my sabbatical to read through the gospels, to notice Jesus sense of joy and hope throughout all that he does. As I ran across Jesus calling of the disciples I was struck by the simplicity of his call. Jesus simply said to the disciples follow me. And to us it may seem unusual, but for Jews of that day Jesus was inviting them to be an apprentice to the rabbi. I share that because I grew up in a tradition rich in formal Christian education, where a call from Jesus was a path towards seminary if ministry was where I felt led. I grew up in a tradition that said Follow Jesus to ministry = education. And I love my seminary, and got lots of practical training there don’t get me wrong, but there was this unsaid meaning I made education = preparation for following Jesus. Yet there is a dissonance for me reading Jesus calling the disciples. The path he called them to looked a lot more like the chart below:
Or another way to put it, the disciples would learn from Jesus, they would try it out (practice), and then they would reflect on the process. But this process did not take place passively in a classroom, this was as they literally followed Jesus down the road. All of this Jesus did so that they would have grow and eventually do it themselves.
What struck me about this in my sabbatical reflections is the movement in the process. Jesus is pouring into the disciples so that they can take more and more on themselves, SO THAT they can lead others in this process. And during my sabbatical this summer I have been blessed to have a number of people pouring into me like Jesus did for his disciples. What this is making me wonder is
- Who am I leading through this process right now? And if it’s unclear, then I have work to do here.
- Are those I am leading then leading others?
Jesus process of apprenticeship always had the goal of lead others. You did not graduate from Jesus U, (it was know as THE U in Israel for those wondering before there was ever any college in the US who puts way too much emphasis on THE in their name). Instead Jesus goal was to equip and lead disciples who made disciples who made disciples. So that the blessing of the Good News would keep traveling. What I am convicted of is how much I have led my life as a follower of Christ as either
A) I am to focus on my internal work with me and God before I serve or come alongside others
B) pitting internal work with God against serving God. Like I had to focus one or the other.
For Jesus this split was not present. You grew in your relationship with God as you served, and you served as you grew internally in your relationship with God. You did because you had to. I wonder what the disciples prayers sounds like in Luke 10 when Jesus sent the 72 out 2 x 2 to share the gospel. Or when the disciples met people who were demon possessed. Both are a part of what it means to follow Christ. Both part of being radically obedient, both part of being fully human, fully alive, fully work according to your and my God given design.