May 27, 2018
Week 5 Assignment
Our readings in this class have taken us from the 1400s to the present time and have given us insight into five very different writers, all seeming to have the same goal in life—to be a true disciple of Jesus. Being a disciple is not only to be a believer or follower. It is a life-long intentional process of learning to follow Jesus, to live the way he wants us to live, and to live by the Holy Spirit’s guidance day by day.
Brother Lawrence and Thomas a Kempis, both Catholic monks, wrote about imitating the actions and spirit of Jesus Christ, shown by good works, shunning worldly desires, and trying to avoid temptations. Both men were trying to help readers understand the teachings of Christ and learn how to follow him.
Brother Lawrence thought discipleship came through humility, confession, and simplicity. His writing was a testimony of his faith, but his solitary life did not make him an example to others of how the Christian life should be lived out. His discipleship was not a “go ye into the world” example. I wonder how much different it would be to live the Christian life in total seclusion, not dealing with worldly influences. The problem would be the inner struggle which all Christians deal with and that would probably be much the same for all of us.
He wrote about submission and daily companionship and walk with God, praise and thanksgiving, personal virtue, and spiritual trials and battles, obviously faced by the clergy as well as all the rest of us.
Thomas a Kempis wrote that a true disciple is humble and patient, leaning on Christ and following his lead, rather than running ahead in our own strength. His central theme was that imitation of the actions of Jesus helps one attain a state of grace. He tells us that putting faith in man will disappoint, but our faith should be in God. There was lots of emphasis on prayer, patience, humility, handling temptations, dealing with our own actions and reactions with others, and trusting God continually.
Wright’s book was twelve sermons taken from the New Testament dealing with “Who is Jesus?’ and “Why Should We Follow Him?” It was easier reading than the first two books and the truths were still there. He stressed that discipleship is a lifetime commitment to follow Jesus, but it involves more than learning how to be a follower of Christ. It also involves sharing that knowledge and experience with others to advance God’s kingdom. A disciple should serve and to be an example. Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples was an example of being a loving, humble servant (John 13:5-10).
Wright also stressed that learning and growing takes time and real effort. Because we deal with human weakness, fear, and anxiety, we have to be able to handle these in our own lives before we can help others face the same issues. We must stay dependent on Jesus as we deal with the daily struggles of our lives. Wright closes Chapter 11 with this thought: “As we ourselves open our lives to the warmth of Jesus’ love, we begin to lose our fear; and as we begin to lose our fear, we begin to become people through whom the power of that love can flow out into the