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B. Explain the meaning of discipleship with reference to present say Christian belief and life.
The term disciple is a very vague one. It can be interpreted in a number of ways. The reader’s digest oxford edition defines it as ‘A follower or pupil of a leader, teacher, philosophy.’ This meaning is also indefinite, in this part of the coursework I will try to come about a more distinct answer.
The early disciples followed Jesus almost blindly. They were told to leave their fishing nets and boats upon the shore and they did. This means being a disciple requires faith. However, Jesus did not just expect them to leave with no assurance. This was Jesus accounting for our humanity. He realises that humans find it hard to believe so he performed a miracle with the fish for proof.
When Jesus had called the disciples he requested that they tell the world about him. The early disciples would go from town to town preaching the word. Jesus also accounted for the fact that not everyone wants to hear what they are saying. Jesus gave the instruction that when people won’t listen they should ‘shake the dust from off their feet’ and continue. The fact that Jesus keeps making allowances for disciple’s human weakness shows that he doesn’t want us to be perfect just to set out to do right.
Being a disciple today could me various things. It may not even require people to go out of their way for people however simply let God’s light shine. This could include helping someone with a pushchair up the stairs.
One of the most important rules in Christian life is ‘love thy neighbour.’ To be a disciple this must be a vital part of life. They must always strive to show love and mercy to others however hard this must be. This means displaying racial, gender and religious tolerance. People can’t be a disciple and discriminate as well.
As a disciple you must be able to take risks. This is shown in the bible as ‘take up your cross daily.’ The challenges and trials that life will throw at you will make it hard to be a disciple. Martyrs gave their lives for Jesus. Today we aren’t necessarily expected to do the same. We could just be the ‘leaven in the lump’ and whilst people are being secular attempt to show God in your actions.
Disciples are role models in society. They should exude saintliness in their every day life. The best way of preaching God’s work is to provide an example for people to try and emulate.
To be a disciple you can not be passive in your actions. The disciple must be actively out to proclaim Jesus and his word.
I shall now give examples of a modern day disciple.
Sister Ita Ford
Sister Ita Ford was born in 1940 in England. She was a nun who worked with various people and was a witness of God. She showed God’s love by looking after people in need.
Sister Ita Ford felt that she was being called to South America to do her work. She left her normal life for a life of uncertainty in Latin America (El Salvador.)
Not too long after her arrival in El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot dead in mass. This meant that Sister Ita new of the dangers nonetheless she remained in the country.
Whilst in Latin America she fought for the people who were suffering dire persecution. Sister pleaded for the release of some prisoners so as an act of ‘good will’ she was given one. When transporting this one prisoner home great flash floods turned the car she was in over and was the only survivor in the car. This was another occasion she could have left but chose not to.
On one faithful night, Sister Ita and some other nuns were out in a car and whilst driving they were stopped by some soldiers beaten, raped, killed and left for dead.
Sister Ita gave her life for the Lord and doing his work and is a fine example of what a modern disciple could do.
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King fought for racial harmony. He saw that there was a great social evil and wanted to rectify it. He was also wary of teachings the lord had outlined in the bible.
He only used peaceful methods in getting his point across. This was him being mindful of God’s word and teaching about being peaceful.
King’s movement was initiated by one black woman deciding not to give up her seat. This seemingly simple act inspired a movement that would change the world and make it a better place.
Martin gave his life for the cause not for glory or recognition but in the knowledge that God loved all people and there is no race in his eyes.
Mother Teresa is possibly most renowned for her efforts to give love to those who felt they couldn’t be loved. This in a way mirrors Jesus as he often preached to lepers and other marginalised people.
Mother Teresa was educated in Ireland and used these skills to teach people in Calcutta. She went amongst the sick and the dying where few had gone before.
Mother Teresa never lost sight of God’s word and really observed one of Jesus’ most fundamental teachings ‘love thy neighbour.’ Mother Teresa achieved a Nobel peace prize in 1979 she still remained humble.
Kolbe was a polish priest who gave his live in place for one other man. This act was totally selfless and was not required however he was moved to do this and in turn showed God’s love.
The life Kolbe gave was for one person. The gesture was on a small scale but the big effect it had was immeasurable.
In conclusion, I believe that a disciple should attempt to be Christ-like. They must realise that they are not perfect beings however strive to proclaim God’s work in every day life. They must never be self-righteous and have a true love for the Lord and all he does.
C. ‘It is more difficult to be a disciple of Jesus today’. Do you agree? Give reasons to support your opinion and show that you have thought about the different points of view.
I agree with the statement that it is more difficult to be a disciple today. Today’s world is very different from the world that it would have been 2000 years ago, in fact even 50 years ago. The world has developed, seen and been exposed to very different conditions and experiences than what they would have traditionally. I will now give reasons to support my argument.
The term ‘sex sells’ is very true; sex is no longer bound just to marriage. Nowadays sex out of wedlock is not a disgrace whereas years ago people would have been stoned for it. This is perhaps a bit harsh however it was fear of this punishment that deterred people from carnal activities. Now people do not have this fear and as a result people no longer feel they must hold back, then people fall into sins. People won’t feel that this sin is wrong as ‘everybody does it’ and feel no need to repent. Being a disciple doesn’t require perfection however it does require repentance after wrong-doings.
Drugs, alcohol and gambling aren’t necessarily new sins however due to the weakening of society’s ethics they are no longer hid. People aren’t as reserved as before so again they don’t hold back. The over-all low principals of today’s society cause people to display no self-control.
Prayer and a relationship with God is not encouraged any more. A regular prayer life and going to church weekly was encouraged with in a Christian community. Nowadays church isn’t as well attended as it was previously. Consequently people do not have knowledge of the Lord and therefore what is wrong or right. In situations of weakness Christians would have drawn into their faith. Now when people feel weak they may find nowhere to get strength against temptations.
Communities and families are no longer as close-knit as they formerly were. People feel isolated and in times of strife feel they’ve nowhere to turn. They then make mistakes in a moment of weakness and end up doing something offensive.
Science has produced a problem. It has made arguments that conflict with many aspects of the bible for example the creation versus the big bang theory. There is evidence concerning the big bang theory and only faith can explain creation; and as faith is currently in short supply few people opt to believe God created all.
Finally and probably most fundamentally with the lack of love being shown in the world at the moment means few people believe that there can be a God in the midst of such suffering.
These are my opinions but some people have a different view. I will now write the view from the other sides of the argument.
The majority of people have free choice of faith. Before, the wrong faith would have easily got someone harmed if not executed. Without this worry people can freely serve him and do his work without fear of persecution.
Nowadays we have role models to try and copy and re-create their good actions. Years ago these role models would have been silenced or killed and this was even if people could hear about them because most things back then were passed on by oral traditional.
The media is a very powerful tool. It can work for or against disciples. It can prove an excellent way of getting across information. It could educate the masses about God quickly and efficiently and in a way making it easier for disciples to communicate to the world about Jesus.
Christianity is no longer hidden. People can openly talk to people about Jesus and the work he did. There are thousands of Christian churches and over 200 Christian denomination so it would be hard for anyone not to know about Jesus.
Finally nowadays if someone does not want to be a disciple of Jesus they can at least seek counsel in various other places. Counselling and talking about your feelings is encouraged today whereas before concerns were kept under allowing people to make injudicious choices.
In conclusion, I still believe that it is harder to be a disciple today. The world has become very secular and people therefore have a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude towards Christ.