Worried you're not a proper disciple?
Updated: Mar 25
Description: With so many Christians doing wonderful things, it’s easy to feel daunted, as if we’re not proper disciples. Here’s a little reassurance.
There are so many stories about remarkable Christians living amazing lives doing wonderful things. But what about we poor souls who aren't in their league!
Let's start with Moses
May seem a funny place to start, but let’s kick off with Moses. Of mere mortals, he was in a class of his own – with maybe only King David and a couple of the prophets coming anywhere close.
Soon before he died, he made one (more) heartfelt appeal to the people he had shepherded for decades. He could have said, ‘Build me a splendid tomb. I’ve been a superlative leader. I led you out of Egypt; I’ve guided you; I’ve brought you to the Promised Land.’ But he said nothing of the kind. He reminded the people of all that God (not he) had done for them. He exhorted them to, ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified… for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31.6). In short, ‘Trust the Lord.’
An example of trust
Trusting the Lord became his default position once he’d accepted the task God had called him to do (though he too suffered doubts in the beginning – see blog: ‘Is that God calling?’ – Bible ref: Exodus 3.1-15). And he certainly slipped up a few times along the way. But without any doubt – and above all else – he trusted God. To complement his trust, Moses had humility. He let God achieve his plans through him. In this sense, he did nothing of himself.
Okay, we may not have a whole nation to shepherd, but Moses gives us a gigantic clue to being a proper disciple.
Jesus and mustard seeds
Let’s charge forward to Jesus and what he said about mustard seeds in Matthew 17.20: ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ He said this after his disciples had failed to heal a boy suffering from seizures. The implication is that, despite everything they’d seen, the disciples still didn’t really have faith – trust – in Jesus.
Of course, it’s easy to criticise. The disciples weren’t exactly the cream of the crop. Whereas the Teachers of the Law went to the best places to recruit their followers, Jesus gathered ordinary people, including Peter – a man prone to blunders who denied he even knew the arrested Jesus. There was also James and his brother, John – the so-called ‘sons of thunder’ (because they were so hot-tempered). He picked Matthew, a tax collector – someone hated by his own people because he worked for the occupying Roman forces collecting their taxes (plus a lot more money for himself). At the opposite end to the collaborator was Simon the Zealot. He hated the Roman occupation and many zealots resorted to violence. We’ll mention just one more: Judas Iscariot – a possible thief and definite traitor – things Jesus may well have known when choosing him. In short, a right motley bunch.
And so to the crux
Despite the many occasions when the disciples failed to grasp what Jesus was about; despite their lack of trust and cowardice; despite a million reasons why not – Jesus chose these unremarkable individuals to take his life-saving gospel into the world.
Moses had faith and trust that God would do all he'd promised for his people. The disciples’ mustard seed faith and trust grew as big as the world itself. Fuelled by the Holy Spirit, they became the earliest apostles.
Therefore, though we may sometimes doubt our own abilities, we should never doubt God’s power in us. If we let him, he can transform our meagre talents and use us to achieve marvels. Faith and trust? Who knows where they might lead. Perhaps all the way to proper discipleship.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.