Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dedication, Focus, Joy

In this passage, Jesus and his disciples are at least a day's journey away from Bethany (which is in Judea), and Jesus decides to go there:
Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea"
"But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"
Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
John 11.7-8,16
I love this guy! He would rather die with Jesus than live without him. What a great example!

I sometimes wish I had that kind of focus
, that kind of loyalty and dedication.

How did Thomas develop that? How could you or I develop it? I think spending a lot of time with Jesus has to be at least part of the answer.

Last night, after I read a little of the Bible, one of my girls asked, "What does it mean to be a disciple?"

In Jesus's time, the definition was very clear. You went where your rabbi went, did what he did, ate what he ate, and so on. You spent a lot of time physically close to your rabbi. Oh, and when he said, "Go into town and untie a certain donkey, and if anyone asks you why you're untying the donkey, tell them this", then you went into town, untied a certain donkey, etc.

Today it's not quite so clear. We can read a lot of what Jesus said, but most of the instructions we get are very general. Love one another. Pray in secret. Don't announce your good deeds. The real specific ones, like "Hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today," or "Sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, then follow me," things like that, are aimed at specific people, and it's not clear that you and I are supposed to obey all of them.

But what I think it means to be a disciple today is to read these things, think about them in the presence of God and other disciples, try to do them, ask God for help, and so on. And today, being Sunday, we gather with others to worship the Lord, to hear a message that will help us follow him more closely.

That's a wonderful thing to do. A joyous occasion. I wish you a good one.

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