From the Reverend’s Desk

By Reverend Eric Gates

The season of Lent is upon us. Lent is the six weeks before Easter Sunday, a time for Christians to meditate on their commitment to Jesus and resolve to be stronger and more faithful in discipleship. From February 18th-April 25th I will be presenting a sermon series for the season of Lent titled “Qualities of Discipleship.” The six Sundays will have the following corresponding themes:

2/18: “Disciples Take Risks”
2/25: “Disciples Learn to Have Faith
3/4: “Disciples Take Time to Learn From Jesus”
3/11: “Disciples Are Last: Lessons in Humility”
3/18: “Disciples Work Together”
3/25: “Disciples Persevere”

Like us, Jesus’ first followers were far from perfect. The Gospels often portray the twelve disciples as bumbling, afraid, thick-headed, and weak. Jesus frequently had to correct their expectations of him and of their discipleship. They abandoned Jesus at the time of his greatest need. But these disciples drew so much courage and conviction from Jesus’ example of self-emptying love that they left behind the lives they had known, and some risked their lives to become “apostles” (those who are sent out) to proclaim the gospel and form the church. As members of the body of Christ today, we can learn from what Jesus taught the first disciples.

It’s important to understand what the difference is between a “disciple” and “apostle.”

A disciple (mathetes) was a student. To “follow” someone was to submit to the discipline of that person’s teaching. Thus, many of the people, both men and women, who followed Jesus on “the Way” could be called disciples. The twelve disciples that Jesus appointed were a distinct group among all the people who followed Jesus. Jesus often treated “the Twelve” as insiders who received special instruction and who were entrusted with continuing Jesus’ mission to proclaim the kingdom of God as apostles.

An apostle is someone who is sent out with a particular message or mission. The Greek term apostolos literally means “someone sent out.” The verbal form means “to commission, to send.” In the early church, “apostle” became an official role that was distinctive from other important roles in the church, including disciple, teacher, prophet, etc. (1 Cor. 12:27–30; Eph. 4:11). The church recognized that the apostles had authority to interpret who Jesus was and what he said.

As disciples of Central Christian Church, I challenge and encourage you to make time for yourself, and your family, to meditate on your commitment to Jesus and resolve to be stronger and more faithful in discipleship as you continue your journey in growing closer to Jesus and living out his teachings more faithfully in 2018 and beyond.