July 29 I Sunday
“‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:31-32
Jesus outlines two sides to the disciple making process. The first part, the act of baptism whereby a person goes down into the water, is a picture of what happens when we enter into relationship with Christ. We die with Him, are buried with Him and are raised with Him to walk in newness of life. Baptism is an important expression of our faith, but the long-term focus of discipleship is
“...teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). The goal of this teaching is not to pass a theological exam, but so that as disciples committed to Christ’s authority, we learn to obey.
Holding to the teaching of Christ involves knowing what He says in three ways. Firstly, we hold to His teaching cognitively. We cannot teach others to obey His teaching if we do not know them ourselves. We read the teaching of Jesus and by extension, the whole of Scripture, so we can understand what He is saying and believe it to be true. A sentimental attachment to Christ, where we simply want to be on the right side of God, is not discipleship. A serious disciple knows that knowing Christ begins with spending time in His Word and in prayer.
Secondly, we hold to Christ’s teaching emotively.
A disciple does not have mere knowledge of the Word but has personally experienced times where it has inspired, challenged, comforted and stretched them. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This is not letting the Word pass through our eyeballs and evaporate out our ears but meditating on it, letting it go deep into our hearts to do its work.
Thirdly, a disciple holds to the teaching of Jesus responsively, allowing the truth to confront us with decisions we have to make. This is the point where many Christians cease to become disciples. The problem is not the information, but their activation of the Word of God. They read the Word and feel its impact and are willing to discuss it with others, but they hesitate when the Word demands more than they are willing to pay. But Jesus promises that when we read responsively and choose to obey, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Disciples know the authority of Christ’s Word and hold to it by taking time to understand it, letting it work within them and choosing to obey what it says. Just as importantly, they disciple others by helping them hold to Christ’s teaching in these same ways.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that Your Word is so much more than just a book. Move me to obediently respond as I read, and provide me with opportunities to inspire a love of Your Word in others.