Posts Tagged With: Bible

Christian or disciple?

I discovered recently that the word ‘Christian’ only appears in the Bible on three occasions. It was a term mostly used by people outside of the ‘Christian’ community to define all of these new, radical, Jesus followers that were springing up everywhere.

If I were to ask 20 people what word comes to mind when they hear the word ‘Christian’, then I would probably get 20 quite different responses. It is a term that is not biblically defined and so to some extent we can determine ourselves what it means.

The word that is much more frequently used by Jesus’ followers and the apostles to define their relationship with Jesus is ‘disciple’. But this word is a lot more frightening to start using as it is quite clearly defined – Jesus specifically teaches about what it means to follow and emulate Him.

In future posts I would like to try and elaborate on what it actually means to be a disciple of Jesus.

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Faith without obedience?

Can you have faith in something without obedience? If the being or entity is either inanimate or makes little demands on my behaviour, then the answer is clearly yes. But if something is actually required from me, well, what then?

In day to day life, if I am instructed to do something, then I have a choice regarding whether I will obey that instruction. I will invariably weigh up the consequences of not following that directive, consider how much authority that person has, and decide how beneficial it would be for me to conform. It is quite likely that I will opt for doing things my way as I trust that I have more insight or a better perspective into what I am being asked to do.

When I am being asked to obey an omnipotent, all-knowing God, I still have a choice, but if I decide not to obey, then the consequences are at least two-fold. Christians believe that there may be some form of punishment or discipline involved for disobeying, but what currently concerns me more is the amount of faith I can actually have in God without obeying Him. A decision not obey someone can be done for many reasons, but I think that what often lies behind the reasoning is a belief that ultimately I know what is best for me. That may be true when a fellow mortal human is telling me to do something, but to (unconsciously or not) decide that I know what is better for me than God does, surely belies a form of agnosticism in God.

In the Bible, Jesus simply said one thing to his then potential disciples as he saw them working their trades: “follow me”. I am not sure whether it was an act of faith or obedience that came first when the disciples chose to do as he told them, but it is clear that both faith and obedience were entwined. It would stand to reason that this always has to be the case when it comes to belief in God.

 

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