Getting It “Right”

It is enough for the student to be

like his teacher… —Matthew 10:25

Rembrandt van Rijn was the most important painter in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. He is now considered one of the great artists of all time, according to noted art historian, Marilyn Stokstad.

Rembrandt was a prolific and popular artist. He ran an enormous workshop in Amsterdam, where many apprentices learned to imitate his manner. In fact, he may have excelled more as an art teacher than a painter. Because his pupils so effectively imitated his manner, art scholars now have a difficult time defining the body of his work.

His students so masterfully imitated his style that works are now being assigned to them, which were formerly attributed to Rembrandt. The students became so much like the teacher their work could not be distinguished from his.

This is how it is to be with Christians. The Greek word mathētēs so often translated “disciple”, occurs, in various forms, approximately 270 in the New Testament. This word can correctly be translated: student, pupil, apprentice, follower, learner or disciple. It always suggests something more than mere impartation and absorption of information. A closeness of relationship is involved, through which the learner so completely knows the teacher that emulation occurs naturally.

This is the idea behind what Jesus says in Matthew 10:25. Every follower of Jesus Christ should aspire to be like Him. Every day, in every way, this goal is sufficient. Since we can never attain to complete Christ-likeness, this goal is sufficient for the whole of our lives, as well.

When we encounter unexpected and challenging circumstances in life, it is enough to weigh all we know about Jesus and His manner of living, letting the notion of “What Would Jesus Do?” influence our decisions and direct our steps. Ultimately, our thoughts and actions should be so completely Christ-like, people will experience the love of Christ at the touch of our hands. People should be able to sense the mind of Christ influencing our thoughts and guiding the words we speak. It is enough for the student to be like the teacher.

This is the greatest challenge of our lives. It is much easier to write those words than to live them. Even if this is the desire of our hearts, our human weakness limits us to inconsistent, sometimes staggering, steps in forward progress. Nevertheless, we wake each day knowing: It is enough to be like Jesus. For those looking for practical advice for the journey towards Christ-likeness, consider the following:

1) Study the Master’s body of work. Start each day with a period of reflection on His life by reading from the Gospels. He didn’t write these books, but they do still reflect what Jesus did and taught–His body of work. If you have a long daily commute, listen to the Gospels in tape or CD. There is a lifetime of lessons in each one of these brief glimpses into the life of Christ. Take the time, also, to read what others have written about Jesus. Their insight can prompt you to develop deeper appreciation for what it means to be a follower of Christ.

2) Spend quality time with the Master each day. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart that you may see wonderful things in His word. (cf. Psalm 119:18) Purposefully reflect on the Lord’s teaching. Exactly what did Jesus mean when He told the Pharisees, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”? Why did Jesus so often remind the Pharisees, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”? There are hundreds of thought provoking points like this to ponder. Also, memorize the Master’s message so that His thoughts influence your own. What better way is there to know what Jesus would do than to be able to recall what Jesus said?

3) Serve the Lord with all your heart. Jesus made it clear that we must willfully determine to follow Him. Where such commitment does not exist, we are constantly looking for loopholes in the service contract. Where wholehearted service to the Lord is lacking, people are more concerned about minimums required than maximums desired. There are no draftees in Christ’s service. Deciding to follow Jesus–desiring to be like Jesus–this really is the heart of the matter.

It is enough for followers of Jesus to strive toward Christ-likeness each day, while making it their life’s aspiration to emulate Him in every way. In so doing, Christ will be seen in every stroke we apply to the canvass and every work of art we produce. It is enough for the student to be like the teacher. When it comes to Christianity, this is really getting it "right"!

© Bill Williams

June 5, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Following Jesus, Life, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Getting It “Right”

  1. Mike Ratliff says:

    Nice post Bill. I think the focus of our blogs overlap quite a bit. 🙂

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  2. Thanks, Mike. I appreciate you stopping by. I do enjoy your blog!

    Blessings,
    -bw

  3. Jennifer says:

    Bill….you are the REAL DEAL. I have not “known” you for long, but words cannot describe how grateful I am that the Lord had our blog paths cross. You imitate your “Teacher” very, very well.

    Your generosity has left me speechless and praising God. Although the offer was made through you, it was ultimately from Him…since all good gifts are from Him. Thank you for reminding me that I am His…and that He loves me with an everlasting love.

    Before checking back in on my computer this evening, I had a conversation with a friend who is concerned about me. I assured her that I was listening to God in a certain area of my life and that He would indeed guide me when it was time for me to move on. I could tell that she was genuinely concerned for me, but at the same time I was frustrated that she could not see the hand of God in the midst of this situation. I left that conversation doubting myself, doubting God, doubting everything. And then I “checked in” on my PC and was bowled over by God’s impeccable timing through you. He reminded me that He is listening; He does care; and He is guiding my every step…even my every site and blog!

    Thank you , thank you , thank you!
    His,
    Jennifer

  4. Bill,

    I discovered you through your comment on my blog. Thanks for coming by. I am enjoying your thoughts here too. Thanks for sharing with us the biblical notion of discipleship. Come back by . . .

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  5. Greg England says:

    I need to have my Rembrandt collection checked to make sure I have the real things and not some shoddy student work!

    Good stuff, Bill. As always. When I preached through Colossians a few years ago, it brought home the beauty of letting go of the struggle to be like Christ by allowing Christ to live in and through us. I can never love as he loved, but I can allow him to love others through me. Same is true with any aspect of my Christ-character development.

  6. Greg England says:

    I’m going to check all of my Rembrandts to make sure they are the real thing and not the work of some wannabe artist!

    Very good post, Bill. It has taken me years to work through all of the teaching of my past to finally see that it’s all about Jesus and spreading the blessing of Jesus to others through his living in us.

  7. Glad you stopped by Greg. For some reason, your comments got caught in the spam-o-matic filter. I gave them their freedom, though.

    We’ll have to put our collections together for a big aution. Antique Road Show might be interested. If we can’t interest them, perhaps we can talk to the people over at “Cash in the Attic” on HGTV. (In case you’re wondering: IF my wife watches television it’s HGTV. She says there’s nothing else worth watching.)

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