ARE YOU A BELIEVER... OR A DISCIPLE?
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If we could, many of us would go from being a believer to becoming a minister right away. I know that I would have and, unfortunately, some people do. Yet there is a long valley between these two phases of release. This gap is called discipleship.
In our culture today, there are few parallels that help us to understand the original concept of discipleship. The idea of apprenticeship is close, but not close enough. In the oriental culture of Jesus’ day, a philosopher, sacred author, or teacher would have students join them for a period of time, abandoning everything else in order to learn the special knowledge they had attained. The master would personally tutor a disciple or a pupil. The student would receive both oral teaching as well as hands-on practice under the watchful eye of the tutor. One Greek Lexicon described a disciple as someone who "learns by experience". Originally, disciples were students of a walking school, who imitated their teacher’s daily disciplines in order to gain his special understanding, spiritual insights, or power. This was based on the simple idea that if a student was going to fully comprehend what the teacher knew they would have to do what the teacher had done. This ancient form of spiritual instruction is still practiced today in many oriental cultures and Eastern religions.
A master would select those he thought had the potential to be his disciples. Before the course began, a price to be paid would be set by the students in exchange for this special privilege. The disciples might also have to serve the master by drawing his water, preparing his food, or doing some other form of menial service. One who excelled at becoming like his teacher could expect some of the renown of the master to rub off on him, heightening his own standing in society. This could even result in him having disciples of his own some day.
JESUS’ UNIQUE DISCIPLESHIP PROGRAM
Today, we see many Christians who are under-developed in their commitment or obedience to Jesus’ teaching. Of them, some might say, “They know Him as their Savior, but not as their Lord.” Or you could say, “They are believers, but not disciples.” The terms “Master and Lord” relate to the practice of discipleship. In fact, both titles are still used in Great Britain’s higher education system today.
According to the Strong’s Dictionary, the title Master means (GK. 1320) didaskalos; an instructor (generally or specifically):-- doctor, master, and teacher.
Jesus used the terms Master and Lord in the same sentence when speaking of His role in the disciples’ lives. To be someone’s Lord means to have significant influence in that person’s life. That is why Jesus asked, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)
LORD GK. 2962. kurios; from kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implying. Mr. (as a respectful title):-- God, Lord, Master, Sir.
There will always be those who will exploit the master-disciple relationship, taking complete control over another’s life so that they become nothing more than a mindless personal slave. Jesus was a unique Master in every regard, but especially in this. He made it clear that He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life for theirs. (Matthew 20:28) The idea of the master being a servant was unheard of. When Jesus started to wash the disciples’ feet, He was communicating a completely abstract concept. After He had finished, He asked His disciples, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do the same." (John 13:12-17)