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Topic: Discipleship (02/23/04)
By Phyllis Inniss
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A disciple is a follower of a leader, or as the Oxford Concise Dictionary says any one of the twelve followers of Christ. Discipleship then would be the following of a teacher or leader or following in the footsteps of Christ.
The word discipline comes from disciple and means training of the mind and character designed to produce obedience and control (Longman Family Dictionary). So that discipleship is being obedient to and under the control of the leader or teacher.
Christ, the Supreme Teacher, never diverged from the will of God. Even at the age of twelve, when His mother and father turned back from their journey to seek Him, he enquired “How is that you sought me? Don’t you know I must be in my Father’s house? Luke2 v.49. Christ also resisted the three temptations of Satan He remained steadfast to the will of His Father.
It is interesting that the twelve whom Jesus chose were already grown men and working men at that, most of them being fishermen. It is easier to discipline children to bring them up in the way in which they should grow, Grown-ups have a harder time responding to discipline since most of their ideas and ideals are already formed. But as Jesus told his disciples, “I chose you, you didn’t choose me” and bears out the statement “Nothing is impossible with God.”
If the teacher is lacking in the qualities required for sound leadership, he is unlikely to inspire in his followers the obedience and training of the mind necessary for their discipleship. The servant is not greater than his master. The master should have a certain charisma, firmness, patience, understanding, moral and spiritual values, if his charges are to look up to him for guidance, respect for the views of others and a willingness to serve as well. Soldiers of war have a different code to exist by, and so may not necessarily fall under these rules.
Eli was found wanting in the way he raised his sons. He showed weakness and their discipleship failed miserably. Hophni and Phinehas because of their contempt for the offering of the Lord paid no heed to Eli, their father, when he cautioned them about what the Lord’s people were saying about them. Therefore the house of Eli was punished because he did not restrain his sons from blaspheming God and both sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed on the same day.
Samuel, whose discipleship was under Eli, was chosen to minister to the Lord. “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with men.” Sam.2 v.26. Had Eli been a more disciplining parent, might he not have discerned that it was the Lord calling Samuel before Samuel was called three times? And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” Sam.3 v. 19.
Today many parents and leaders are unable to discipline themselves; their lack of discipleship to a higher authority forfeits them the right to expect it in their children or charges.