Monday, December 5, 2011

Radical Discipleship


Have you ever seen devotional programs marketed toward teens using terms like "radical discipleship"?  Sadly, the product is often neither radical nor discipleship, but just the opposite: watered down Sunday school lessons with a crazy graffiti-like typeface on the cover.

What is discipleship, really?  Discipleship is the art of imitation.  It is the process of becoming like the one you follow.  Disciples of Jesus Christ should seek to be like him.  “Radical” disciples, therefore, should be those who seek to be like him in every possible way and at any cost.

Yet, we are left with a question that few people answer honestly.  What was Jesus Christ really like?  In a sense, we are revisiting the now-clich√© bracelet slogan, “What would Jesus do?”  This question is most often terribly misapplied.  The question is framed in absurd contexts such as, “Who would Jesus bring to the school dance?”

The question is posed as “What would Jesus do if he were in my shoes?”  The fact is, Jesus wouldn’t wear your shoes.  Rather, we should be wearing his!  Let's broaden our perspective for a moment.  Rather than making Jesus in our own image, let's ask the question: “What would Jesus really do?”

Would Jesus:
  • Read the New International Version of the Bible?
  • Read the original Hebrew text? (Luke 4:17-19)
  • Eat a ham sandwich?
  • Eat unleavened bread (matzah) on Passover? (Luke 22:7,19)
  • Go to a church on Sunday?
  • Go to a synagogue on Saturday? (Luke 4:16)
  • Wear a WWJD bracelet?
  • Wear ritual fringes (tzitzit)? (Matthew 14:36)
  • Celebrate Christmas?
  • Celebrate Hanukkah? (John 10:22)
The real Jesus (Yeshua, actually) is not an Evangelical Christian, but a strictly observant Jewish rabbi. Christianity might be a religion about Jesus, but it is not Jesus' own religion.

If discipleship is the art of imitation, then we should be looking at what Jesus truly did, and modeling our lives after him.

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