In the School of Christ (Christ's Call to Discipleship)

Currently, I'm trying to post a few times a week summaries of chapters from books I've read over the past few years. These are the books that have really informed my thinking on discipleship and small groups. Hopefully, they'll provide a good opportunity for you to think through some of these same thoughts.

Today, I'm looking at chapter two from the book Christ's Call to Discipleship by James M. Boice. This chapter is entitled "In the School of Christ".

Boice begins this chapter by suggesting that discipleship is really an activity in which we are going to the "school of Christ." This school is unique, thought, because not only is Jesus our teacher, He is also the content. Boice is building on the truths from Matthew 11:28-30 which begin with the expression, "Come to me". This chapter addresses what it means to truly come to Jesus, suggesting that the core objective of coming to Jesus is learning what it means to know him.

The difference between a religious person and a disciple of Jesus is the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Boice tells us that this is very difficult, but it is also very easy. He says, "although following Christ is, in a certain sense, the hardest thing anyone can ever do, at the same time it is possible for everyone, because Christ provides his disciples with the will to persist in that calling. He indicates the broad scope of the offer when he says, "Come to me, ALL you who are weary and burdened."

Continuing the theme of knowing God, Boice references J.I. Packer whose book Knowing God listed four elements of knowing God:
  1. listening to, receiving and applying the Word of God with the aid of the Holy Spirit
  2. recognizing God's nature and character as He has revealed himself
  3. accepting God's invitations to us, and doing what He commands
  4. recognizing and rejoicing in the love He has shown us
Knowing God impacts not just our mind; but our emotions, our spirit, and our body. It is not just a cognitive exercise, it is a regular activity, an active pursuit, and an exciting revelation.

Boice closes the chapter by talking about three lessons we can learn about discipleship by considering Jesus' use of the word "yoke" in this passage. Drawing on ancient understandings of what a yoke was, He suggests these three lessons:
  • Discipleship is submission. Submitting to the yoke of another is yielding all control of your life over to them. Charles Spurgeon said that if someone is to be saved by Jesus, they must make Jesus their master.
  • Discipleship is work. The yoke is a tool which enables animals to work more effectively. When we take on Jesus' yoke, we are effectively signing up to work for him and his kingdom for the rest of our lives.
  • Discipleship is companionship. More often than not a yoke was used to join two animals together so that they could work in tandem and accomplish much more. Discipleship is being yoked to Jesus, so that we do what he does, and we go where he goes. One who is yoked to Christ cannot live a life apart from Christ.
Finally Boice reminds us that those who come to Jesus and accept his yoke find peace and rest. They find peace with God because their sins are erased and no longer come between that relationships. Secondly they find peace in God. In every situation, they can trust their savior, maker, provider, Lord to do what is right on their behalf.