Jesus Christ calls all peoples everywhere to be his disciples. And disciples are those who intend to live their lives as Jesus would live them if Jesus were them.

Shrouded in the Mists of History

But the practical doing of this is obscured to us today for Jesus is shrouded in the mists of history. By saying this I am not referring to the problem of the quest for the historical Jesus. Quite the opposite. Our problem is that the modern religious imagination is so stunted that we have effectively locked Jesus into first century Palestine with its robes and sandals and overall agrarian culture. We can hardly imagine what it would look like for Jesus to function as a computer programmer or lab technician or construction worker or graduate student, not to mention a mother or father, a husband or wife. Can you, for example, picture Jesus attending a NBA basketball game or playing softball with the local team or sitting in the break room with other Wal-Mart employees? Yet these are precisely the kinds of things we need to imagine if we expect to live as his disciples in the modern world.

An Overall Way of Life

In saying this, I am speaking of an overall way of life, not just about times when we are on the spot or are trying to make a critical decision. If I am a magazine editor and ask the question, “How would Jesus live if he were me?” I am not primarily asking about what kind of articles I will publish in my magazine though that question will be asked and answered. But more to the heart of the issue I am asking questions about my leisure time, about recreation, about sleep, about prayer, about solitude, about reading and relationships, and a host of other things. Then as a disciple I will order my life according to an overall pattern that conforms to the way of Christ.

“But how will I know the right pattern?” you may ask. Well, first of all there is no “right” pattern. Different personalities, situations, and needs demand different patterns. Besides, it is not nearly as hard as you think. A simple, unvarnished reading of the Gospels will give you an overall way of living that Jesus felt important while among us in the flesh. Of course, that was done in the context of first-century Palestinian culture, but with very little effort, you can easily make the conversion to your situation. Then, too, Jesus is truly alive and teaching his people. If, with humility of heart, you genuinely seek his way, he will guide you.

The Grace in Discipleship

And this is the great grace in discipleship to Jesus. When we seek him with all our heart, we are found by him. From our human perspective it seems like we are following hard after God: seeking, striving, pursuing. In reality, we are pursuing God only because he is first pursuing us. As Frederick von Hugel says, “God is always previous”. So our discipleship is really one of reflex action, of God seeking us, of prevenient grace.

This reality is a great encouragement. Jesus is ever with us, our everliving Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend. His invitation to be his disciples is all grace and mercy for we are invited to be yoked to him. And as we learn to fall in step with him, he will show us the way and give us the resources to live that way.

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Originally published in October 1995.