Jesus said to them, “You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:31 (TLB)]
A common teaching method in medical school is to “watch one, do one, teach one.” The intern learns the basics by watching an experienced physician, then puts his knowledge into practice by doing the procedure himself and, finally, masters the procedure by teaching someone else to do it. It is only when we can teach something that we finally understand it. Another mantra in medicine is “Teaching is learning twice.” I suppose that is why it is called the “practice” of medicine.
While Jesus doesn’t call us all to be physicians, he does call us all to be disciples and discipleship follows much the same “watch, do and teach” philosophy of med school. Almost anyone, if they studied hard and observed enough of them, could learn how a coronary heart bypass is done, but that wouldn’t make them cardiovascular surgeons any more than just knowing about Jesus makes someone a disciple of Christ. The first disciples did more than just watch Jesus perform miracles and listen to His parables and, if we’re to be Christ’s disciples, we need to do more than learn about our Lord.
In step two, a Christian disciple has to follow Jesus. He has to apply our Lord’s teachings to his life and become like Him. Simply put—he has to put into practice all that he has learned about love, forgiveness, redemption and salvation. For the budding heart surgeon, just knowing how a heart bypass is done isn’t enough either; he actually has to do one. He has to touch the heart, and graft blood vessels from other parts of the body to reroute the blood around the clogged arteries. While few of us would be able to take that second step in medicine and perform a bypass, we can take that second step in our faith and put into practice what we’ve been taught by Jesus.
In the third step, the med student teaches someone else how to do the procedure. He explains and demonstrates which arteries have the best results when grafted and how to remove and reattach them. It’s successfully taking that third step that eventually turns a med student into a doctor. In Christianity, in spite of it being an essential part of discipleship, we seem to hang back when it comes to teaching, talking about, and demonstrating how our faith in Jesus works. Certainly, the command to share faith in Christ was given so the gospel message could spread far and wide. There is, however, another reason—revealing and explaining our faith makes it stronger and helps us grow. The faith of those early disciples deepened as they spread the gospel message and their knowledge grew as they taught. As we read Acts and the Epistles, we see how the men who abandoned Jesus in the garden became mature disciples as they shared the gospel, clarified points, answered questions, and exhibited their belief. Most of us have no hope of ever becoming a surgeon but, if we learn, follow and teach, we can all be disciples of Christ.
One day Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them authority over all demons—power to cast them out—and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them away to tell everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. [Luke 9:1-2 (TLB)]
When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere preaching, and the Lord was with them and confirmed what they said by the miracles that followed their messages. [Mark 16:19-20 (TLB)]
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