The Starting Point
So where does one begin with Jesus? You’ve heard something about Jesus, enough to check him out as possibly a valid source of good information for your life, and you want to know how to progress in learning about him?
A good place to start is where Jesus suggests to start, as a disciple. If this word is unfamiliar to you or holds too many negative connotations you can use the word student or apprentice. This, after all, is what Jesus commissioned his original closest followers, the apostles to do, “Go therefore and make disciples…” And so, after our introduction to Jesus, we enter into apprenticeship with him, being a student of his, a disciple.
This obviously begs lots of questions though. What is a disciple? What is this arrangement that I am entering into? Is there anything for me to do? What does he do? To what end or mastery am I being mentored?
Let’s start with, What is a disciple? A disciple can be defined as a person who is a student or follower, learning under close supervision the ideas and beliefs of the one they follow, holding them up as a model and seeking to imitate them.
It might help to think of a disciple or apprentice in terms of a particular craft in order to better understand what a disciple is. Let’s take for example being an apprentice to a master chef. One would expect that this apprentice would be required to acquire at least a basic set of knives and cooking utensils. They would undoubtedly be spending lots of time with the master chef, both gaining knowledge and practicing various skills. The apprentice would be evaluated and challenged to make corrections to both their understanding of culinary knowledge and practice of culinary skills. They would certainly fail many time, but they would inevitably progress. And if they persevered under the masters tutelage they would one day be like the master chef.
And so, as a master chef is to culinary knowledge and practice, so Jesus is to life knowledge and practice. In being Jesus’s disciple, his apprentice, one enters into an ongoing training program with the master of life. And like an apprentice to a chef, one must acquire some basic tools to start with. For example a bible to learn what’s been recorded about Jesus and what he said. One can expect to spend a lot of time with him, talking with him in reflection about things being learned and how a particular insight may change a currently held belief or life practice. One can expect a consistent flow of “ah-ha” moments where new things are learned about the realities of life.
And like any other apprenticeship, it will take time, intention, and commitment to the master’s teaching and practice. There will be failures, frustrations, and setbacks along the way, and there will be things not easily understood and skills not easily mastered without effort and focused attention. But with perseverance one will become like Jesus. The end of this apprenticeship, among so many other things, being made perfect in love… the willing and acting for the good of oneself, others, and even one’s enemies.
So finally, if you are in this apprenticeship already, carry on. Persevere to the end in love with the master of life as your guide. And if you are just at the start of this apprenticeship, welcome fellow disciple! You have entered into a journey that knows no end. For in knowing the master of life you will not only know a good life now, but one day will also know life eternal.