About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
Disciple Are We?
The twelve apostles of
Jesus were a motley crew of Jewish men with various backgrounds and
opposing personalities. Why
Jesus chose such a diverse group of men who were so incompatible to
become a unified community to represent Him is difficult to comprehend.
Take Peter, for example. He
could be compulsive at times, and that created conflict.
He owned a successful fishing business.
Then there was Matthew, a Jew who willingly worked as a tax
collector for the despised Roman government.
Matthew would have collected taxes from businessmen like Peter as
they entered the city of Capernaum
with their produce. Then,
before these men left his excise booth, Matthew would often extort them
by demanding extra money from these men that he would have pocketed for
himself. Any refusal to pay
up would not go well for men like Peter.
Such practices were commonplace among Roman tax collectors back
then. No wonder they were so
Simon the zealot was an
aggressive militant Jew. He
wanted so much to initiate an armed insurrection that would overthrow Rome
with brutal military force. Simon
would have hated Matthew's guts. In
Simon's eyes, Matthew was a traitor to the Jewish cause, a pathetic
excuse for a Jew. Matthew's
body should rot on the streets of
John, being the loving
and caring guy that he was, would have been caught in the centre of the
conflict among the motley members of Jesus' disciples.
Attempting to create a unified, peaceful, co-existence among this
dysfunctional group was impossible.
Then there was Judas. Seriously,
did anyone really trust that thief?
These men must have
continually been at each other's throats, but still, they were Jesus'
hand-picked men. They were
to form the foundation of a godly, unified, counter-cultural community
that would represent Jesus as being the supreme universal authority.
Their love for one another would demonstrate to the world that
they were the disciples of Jesus, as was Jesus' desire.
John 13:35 reads:
"By this everyone
will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
For a brief moment in
time the newly-created community of disciples was unified as the Holy
Spirit descended into the disciples' lives on the Day of Pentecost, but
as the community grew in numbers, it began to fracture.
As recorded in Acts 6, a dispute arose that divided the Community
of Christ along ethnic lines. Did
outsiders now question whose disciples these people really were?
over-politicized western-world church, we seem more committed to the
kingdoms of men than the
I realize that
divisiveness cannot be avoided in our sinful world, as Jesus implied in
"Woe to the world
because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must
come, but woe to the person through whom they come!"
Still, the church, the
Community of Christ, has been called by the Creator of all communities
to be a unified counter-cultural community who demonstrates the life of
Jesus to a crippled world community.
We are to be the disciples of Jesus, not the disciples of any
philosophical, cultural, ethnic, or political leader.
This question begs to be asked.
Whose disciples are we?