Thursday, September 12, 2013

Discipleship v Decisions

I am struck this morning by one particular Bible story.  As the Ethiopian and Phillip rode along in the chariot, Philip was preaching the good news about Jesus, not "the plan of salvation."  And the Ethiopian man's response was "Here is water, why can't I be baptized?"

We don't know exactly what was said in that chariot, but Luke characterized it as good news.  What I take from this is what Scot McKnight says in the opening to his book "The King Jesus Gospel."  Getting people to make a decision for Jesus is both easier and shorter lived than engaging them as a disciple (student).  The Ethiopian was, of course, already a student, and Phillip taught him further. As he learned, he apparently came to the conclusion he should be baptized.

The distinction may be subtle, but is important.  If you teach a person to be a student, a learner, he or she will continue to study, to learn, and to grow.  And at some point in the process she will reach a decision.  If, on the other hand you focus on getting a decision, getting them baptized, then the process is likely to end there.

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