Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Discipleship: Learning the Teacher

Discipleship is not just learning from Christ but learning Christ. Paul warns the Ephesian church, ‘But that is not the way you learned Christ!’ (Eph 4:20 ESV). There are two important observations on this passage. First of all, the root of the verb translated as ‘learn’ in almost all English translations, could mean ‘learning by enquiry.’ It is used in this sense in 1 Corinthians 14:35. Enquiry is an integral aspect of the teacher-disciple relationship in eastern cultures. The disciples probe and the teacher dispenses knowledge in response to the intellectual queries of the student. Traditionally what the disciple probes is teachings, a body of knowledge.
However, there is a major difference in Christian discipleship. What the disciple probes is not just a set of principles or teachings. They are probing the teacher himself. The teacher is the object of inquiry. This implies that Christian discipleship has to do with knowing more and more of the person of the Teacher.
This is exemplified in the longings of Saint Paul that expressed in Phil 3:10: “… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death….” Discipleship is knowing Christ, but not merely a saving knowledge of him, but an exploration of his person. This is how Christian discipleship is different from idolatry. Idolatry has to do with a static knowledge of the object of worship. However, God’s plan for the Christian discipleship is growth in knowledge as Saint Peter observes. Peter concludes his second epistle with the exhortation that stresses this aspect of Christian discipleship. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18, ESV).

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