Renaissance of the Disciple

The word “renaissance” is defined as a rebirth or renewal. More often than not you will see it in relation to the ending phase of the Dark Ages. According to Wikipedia, “it encompassed a flowering of literature, science, art, religion, and politics, and a resurgence of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.” (I will address more on this in a later Post)

I believe “Renaissance of the Disciple” as a term best describes what is needed in Christianity to find that which has been lost from the first century disciples. The Gospel message of Jesus Christ flashed through the world in an amazingly short period of time. These were ordinary men and women who were persecuted for their belief. None carried any pedigree or status that would give them a stage. They had nothing of worldly gain to show for their discipleship. All of the original eleven (Judas excluded) Disciples of Jesus, save John, were martyred. John lived in exile for years, doing hard labor.

What made their message spread so rapidly that most of the civilized world was turned upside down by 200 AD? The message holds the power, but the messenger is the key. God enables those whom He calls as disciples. The first followers gave up everything – home, businesses, extended family, friends, their lives –  because they so passionately believed Jesus to be the Son of God, their Messiah, and Him resurrected and alive. They wholly trusted God and recognized the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God as His seal of their eternal life; and they understood the empowering of that Spirit as the enablement to spread the message.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

However, it was the disciples’ lives, their example, which validated the message. They abandoned themselves to this call. Jesus effectively took the fear of death off the table – it no longer had any power to affect their lives. These ordinary men and women allowed Jesus to live through them, thus empowering the message.

This is no different today. God has not changed, will never change. The Holy Spirit indwells every individual redeemed by God through their faith in Jesus. The power of this message to radically change lives is no different. So, what then has changed? The disciple has changed. We (those of us in the affluent – blessed by God – cultures) have fallen for the lie that we can serve God while a slave of material desires. Jesus said “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”(Matthew 6:24).

The life of the disciple in today’s “western” cultures is so greatly detached from the first century that we want to believe, in fact, are convinced there must be a better, easier, more sophisticated way.

There isn’t!

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Author: Sojourner

I am a slave of my Master, Jesus Christ, the living Son of God. Learner. Teacher. Writer. Sojourner.

5 thoughts on “Renaissance of the Disciple”

  1. Sojourner, yes, it is true and right that the Lord’s disciples should have the same zeal, and love, and relationship with the Lord, as first century believers; and also truth that the Western Church has known less acute persecution, but perhaps if the Lord wills it, this will change. Stories are coming out of England, Scandinavia, and Canada about the pressure upon Christians in regard to their children’s education, and in regard to restrictions upon preaching the whole counsel of God from the pulpit. So far, persecution in the U.S. is not as acute, but more subtle, e.g., mockery in the media.

    Thank you for including both men and women in your discussion of discipleship–that is so encouraging.

    Maria Tatham

    1. While it is a Biblical precept that Jesus expects men to lead out in His Church, we must not overlook the fact that men and women are fully equal in His sight. (after all, in the eternal Kingdom we are all the “bride’ of Christ). It is simply the question of roles in the here and now. However, God made it even more clear when you consider how He used women in advancing His Kingdom. For example:
      1 Leah the forgotten wife of Jacob, birthed the son from whom the Messiah would come;
      2 Ruth, a woman of Moab, as the grandmother of David;
      3 Esther, saved the Jews from extinction;
      4 the Mary’s, first ones to see the risen Lord;
      5 Lydia, whom Paul chose to establish a church.

      So, not to “beat a dead horse,’ but where would we be without the women?

      Thanks for your encouragement!

      1. Thank you too! I see that you stand on the whole testimony of the Word of God, in regard to different roles for men and women, but the same inheritance in the Lord.

  2. Discipleship has for a long time been reduced to training people to believe the “party line” of a particular denomination rather than how to reveal Jesus through their life. We do need to get back to a first century reality in our walk. perhaps we need to be persecuted to rediscover our passion.

    Much is said about our relationship today with money and material things and while I disagree with totally with prosperity theology, I do believe that we should be as financially successful as possible in order to “feed the widows and orphans”. To assist our brothers and sisters around the world and even in our own neighbourhood requires resources and the more resources we have the more we can do for them. I don’t believe that Tithing is relevant today and in any case 10% isn’t enough. We should have so much coming in that we can afford to give 90%!. Then we can really achieve supporting the physical needs of those who need it and when their bellies are full we can then feed their spirits.

    Great post.

    1. You’ve said a lot here. I sometimes hesitate to speak of the issue of the persecution of believers and spiritual growth. But, you are quite right. In the first and second centuries, all followers of The Way were living under persecution. Where the Church is protected and affluent, it seems to be dying; while the underground churh in China is exploding in growth (from what we hear).

      I understand and agree with your point regarding the flow of money through the disciples hand. Unfortunately, that has become a mantra of the affluent church. And in the US, at least, it has grown Mega Churches, with tens of millions of dollars spent on church plant and media facilities, to broadcast a particular personality to as many as possible. Musicians and speakers charge tens of thousands of dollars, and end up “preaching to the choir.” Meanwhile, the down-and-outers get table scraps, and are deafened to the message because of the messemger.

      It is hard to achieve a balance. I know God has raised up many who have the gift of producing anf GIVING financial resources. But for many Christians, the drive to achieve success in the material world has become their god.

      Thanks for your (always) insightful comments.

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