Monday nights this Fall we are having great conversation around a DVD series First Light: Jesus and the Kingdom of God. This week one of the featured scholars, John Dominic Crossan, explained that the men and women who followed Jesus were companions rather than disciples. The word disciple, he says, means student and teachers do not ask students to do what teachers do. Jesus engaged his followers in his ministry. They were Jesus’ companions. Jesus told them to ‘just do it’. Jesus, not Nike, crafted those words, Crossan offers. Just do it!
I was still thinking about that Tuesday afternoon as I prepared for the Deanery Fresh Expressions session exploring leadership and discipleship for the missional church. Discipleship. In the gospels, Jesus’ followers are disciples, but in the book of Acts, they are called apostles, teachers. I wondered about John Dominic Crossan’s portrayal of followers as companions. Disciples and Apostles or Companions?
One of my primary complaints about contemporary Christians is our proclivity to put Jesus on a pedestal so high above our daily life that his life becomes a glorious image rather than a life we are invited to engage in ourselves. Is Jesus a royal doulton figure, something you cherish and dust from time to time or is Jesus actively involved in shaping your life?
If disciples are students and apostles are teachers, who are the doers? I guess that would be us! Companions, we are! Companions in this journey towards God’s vision of the world, the kingdom. Throughout the day, we converse with the one who taught us to pray, to sit with the marginalized and rich alike. When confronted with those who accuse us unjustly, we are not alone. Jesus stands with us, just as he stood before Pilate. Someone once told me, ‘Never under-estimate the power of truth.’ Companions, let us walk with Jesus day by day. Surely we live in a different cultural milieu, but once again, Jesus is not a china figure to be valued from afar. Jesus is God in human flesh, Emmanuel today and always.
Pray, chat with the one with whom we sojourn. Shall we be companions? Friends, I think we are. Rather than learning so much about Jesus, let’s just do it! Live the way of the Lord.