a life following Jesus

“The mystery of goodbye is unlocked by those who have childlike faith in the One who can lead them to the key.” – JCH

Possibly you have great memories of a special person in your life that inspired you so much that you responded to his call to a greater commitment. Of course, this might’ve been one of your teachers in school, but could’ve also been any kind of “teacher” that you trusted and admired, such as a coach, mentor or older role model. Any special person like this would have had a teaching role in your life.

Change from the inside out

You found that you’d do whatever is necessary to learn and mature under her direction. Being around this trusted person, your life began to change from the inside out. Through your simple faith in him, you gained a new identity that empowered you to achieve things you never thought possible and a confidence that you could become more than you ever dreamed. You actually enjoyed learning from this teacher even though it would be really difficult and challenging at times. You were mysteriously willing to give up some things for her in order to reach new, world-changing heights. You trusted him that much.

Goodbye to hello

The fact of the matter is that you realized in the presence of this special person you’d have to un-learn some stuff from the past! You’d need to let go of preconceived ideas and learned behaviors that held you back. Even self-defeating habits would need to be relinquished in order to keep growing and reaching those new heights. You’d say goodbye to a myriad of things, beliefs, values and possibly even some relationships that could distract and distance you from this role model in your life, all perhaps rooted in a false understanding of your value as a person. In other words, she gave you the key to unlock a mystery inside of you, that saying goodbye (a figurative “death”) to things in your past would always mean saying hello (new life) to new and better things. After all, this person so important to you saw something in you and knew you were meant for much more than your past. She challenged you, tested you and proved you in ways that you knew were only for your greater good.

An important note: Keep in mind that every human being is fallible. There is no perfect human teacher, mentor, coach or role model. If you can’t remember anyone in your life that played that life-changing role for you, or if you faced mistreatment by someone you looked up to, that left you hurt, broken or abandoned, don’t stop reading! Many of us have been there too. Believe the best is yet to come for you. There is Someone who is the Perfect Teacher, that can’t wait to be that special person in your life.

Throughout history this transformative kind of “teacher-student” relationship has been very important in many cultures. Early in the first century A.D. a young carpenter named Jesus began teaching people from various walks of life about a new and albeit controversial way of life at that time. Jesus claimed things about Himself that no other human being had ever claimed, and He promised eternal life to those who believed in Him. A trickle of people were drawn to Him. There was something indescribable about Him, with an affection that penetrated even the most hardened hearts of broken people. He spoke to them with a gracious authority like no other teacher. Those who followed Him found a new identity, a brand new hope and personal redemption. Eventually the number of people that believed in Jesus grew to what was called a “multitude.” (Today, believers in Jesus comprise the Christian faith which is the world’s largest.)

A brand new way of life

Those believers that first accepted a greater call from Jesus to follow Him more closely discovered the “goodbye-to-hello” life never before known in those days. It was a different life indeed because it wasn’t bound by the religion of the day, burdened with hundreds of rules and a politically motivated authoritarian structure. The early students of Jesus – like followers today – willingly made great sacrifices in their personal lives and said goodbye to much of their past, including religion, to say hello to a relationship with this amazing teacher, and a brand-new way of life. Over the centuries to present day, believers that have decided to follow Jesus into a greater commitment are known as His disciples.

 “The word “disciple” appears in the New Testament 261 times in the gospels and the book of Acts. What did it mean to be a disciple? In the ancient Hellenistic world a disciple was a pupil or learner of a great teacher. “ – Robert L. Foster, PhD, Society of Biblical Literature

“The Hebrew word for disciple is talmid. This word stresses the relationship between rabbi (teacher or master) and disciple (student). A talmid of Jesus’ day would give up his entire life in order to be with his teacher.” – Ray Vander Lann, www.thattheworldmayknow.com

Discipleship: a believer’s choice

In the Christian faith we tend to load up this word ‘disciple’ with theological weight. It may seem heavy and burdensome to you. It seems like many pastors approach discipleship more like an obligation that we believers must fulfill as evidence that we are “truly saved.” What a tragic misunderstanding!

Conversely, the Bible indicates throughout the New Testament letters that not all believers had responded to an inner call of Jesus to become disciples, but most were still genuine believers. In fact, virtually all of the New Testament letters were written to and for genuine believers, encouraging them in their faith, urging them to follow Jesus into the transforming inner-life change of discipleship. The writers were in reality revealing God’s heart for His people throughout the ages.

Today the word disciple still refers to a believer that has been drawn to a closer walk with Jesus, continuously responding to the Teacher – the Spirit of Christ. In fact, this realization opened up a whole new world to me as a believer, far beyond what the absolute best teacher on earth could offer. I found the key.

Let’s take a closer look at the key.

All scriptural references are taken from a variety of Bible translations and paraphrases including The Message Bible (MSG), The New Living Translation (NLT), English Standard Version (ESV), The Voice (Voice), The Passion Translation (TPT), New American Standard Bible (NASB), The Living Bible (TLB), New International Version (NIV). Quotations used from other sources are acknowledged in text. Photos used are taken from a variety of artists mentioned by name.

Photo by Arthur Poulin

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