The aspect of developing resources for Christian discipleship is of great interest to the team at Word Online. Part of our mission statement is: ‘to empower individual Christian discipleship and church growth.’
Judaism had a strong culture of discipleship. Teachers (rabbis) would have students who studied with them either formally in schools, or informally, to learn the ways of the Jewish religion. John the Baptist, and then Jesus, entered into this culture. Disciples are people who seek to copy their teacher and learn from him or her.
In Series 2 Episode 5, the difference between a convert - someone who professes faith in Jesus Christ and identifies themselves as a Christian - and a disciple - someone who organises their life in order to follow Jesus, is explained. The first disciples left their home, their families and their workplace to follow John the Baptist and then Jesus. These particular disciples - Peter, Andrew and John - later became part of the chosen Twelve, who would be Apostles and lead the community of faith after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
The whole of Series 4 of Word Online concerns Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 and in Luke 6:17 - 46. This teaching was given to all Jesus’ disciples - not just the Apostles - and Jesus anticipated that all those who believed in him, including us today, would follow the principles and code of the Sermon on the Mount. Later in Jesus’ teaching, in Luke 12, he seeks to equip his disciples in the face of opposition which they had to face - and we still have to face today. In Series 8 Episode 13, Martin Charlesworth, teaching at the start of this passage, encourages us to invest in eternity and hold lightly to the material things we have, and to see the trials and tribulations of standing up as a Christian in the wider context of eternity.
Later in that series, Martin goes on to say, ‘the discipleship of Christians is shaped biblically, more than anything else, by the Gospels. It is those people who engage with the Gospels at a substantial level, who read carefully, study, reflect on and meditate on the Gospels, who come to understand that Jesus never called anybody to a comfortable or an easy life. He called them to a life of immense purpose, immense meaning, immense fulfilment in the sense that we're aligning ourselves to God and his purposes for us.’
What better reason could we have to study the Gospels, and to use Word Online to help us?!