Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Difference Between the Crowd and the Disciples



“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."”       Luke 13:1-5 NASB

I intended to move to the next bit of Scripture today, but the difference between the disciples and the crowd has concerned me lately, so we're tapping this passage one more time.


The word "disciple" comes from a root word meaning "to take". The disciple, then, is one who takes the doctrines and teachings of another and makes them their own. Scripture describes multiple "disciples". First,there were the 12 called disciples (eventually known as Apostles). Jesus also sent 70 followers (or disciples) to teach His gospel. Anyone who followed Jesus during His lifetime was a disciple, and any person who follows Jesus today is also a disciple. That's a lot of disciples, isn't it?


There is, however, a marked difference between a disciple and a member of the crowd. A "crowd" is simply a large number of persons gathered closely together. 


Being a member of the crowd means I am in attendance. It does not mean that I am a disciple.


Please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, because I know many disciples at my church, and I'm sure you know disciples at your church. With that said, it's important to understand that our churches are filled with "the crowd", people who have gathered together. It is not likely a crowd of disciples, because we should have seekers who have come to learn more about the Christ we have demonstrated to them, people who aren't disciples yet. That's a very good thing.


The problem comes when the crowd looks just like the disciples and the disciples act just like the crowd. 


Why is that a problem? If the supposed disciples act exactly like the crowd acts, maybe the supposed disciples are actually just part of the crowd. Does that make sense to you?


Being a disciple of Jesus, by definition, means that I am a pupil, taking the teachings of Jesus and incorporating them into my life. Incorporating His way should make me different, not leave me the same.


I'm a disciple, and often a poor one. I'm very familiar with the apostle Paul's difficulty, for it is my own. Perhaps you've experienced this, too. 


I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”
Romans 7:21-23 NASB

The war against sin in our lives is very real, and often a minute-by-minute battle. My sin may not be as obvious as it once was, but it is still as deadly. 

A judgmental, critical spirit may hide behind a big smile and polite words, but it is still sin.

What, then, can we do? How can a disciple be different from the crowd?

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”  Romans 8:10 NASB

If we allow it, the Spirit of God will work in us to convict us of sin and draw us toward righteousness. 

We can be better than we are, if we are willing to change. 

I read those words and know they are true. Equally true is that I can be better than I am, but not if I choose to stay the same. Therein is the problem, isn't it? I like "same". I like my comfortable life, my way of spending, my way of doing. Change means my comfort, spending, doing must be different. 

I resist the change. We all do.

Am I willing to give all, as Jesus did, to save the perishing? Apparently not, because I haven't given all. Thanks be to God, the life of a disciple is one of lifelong learning, lifelong striving, lifelong becoming. 

Although I am not what I want to be as a disciple, I rejoice that I am no longer what I used to be as part of the crowd. I'm farther along the path toward Christlikeness than I once was. 

The first step in being a disciple is recognizing we are one of the crowd. If we find ourselves in the crowd, let's take a step forward. Move out of the crowd and into the life of a disciple. Become what God intended us to be. Allow the Holy Spirit to change us, mold us into the image of our Lord Jesus. 

If we are a disciple, let's take a step closer to Christ and become more like Him. Let's be the people He meant us to be.

Change is rarely comfortable and often difficult. Change that makes us more like Christ, however, is always worth it.
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Our Father, forgive us for our stubborn refusal to be all You called us to be. Convict us of our sin and help us to become the disciples You intended us to be.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

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