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Discipleship and Friendship

Lisa Brockman

(Photo: Unsplash)

“Jesus extends to us a winsome invitation to come along with Him on a journey,“ he said, “A disciple is someone who decides to go on a journey with Jesus and be His friend.”  

Is this really the essence of life with God? I thought as I sat in my first Renovaré Institute residency. My teacher shared about his friendship with Jesus in a way that stirred my desire to enjoy what He was enjoying in His life with God. He brought a softness to the life of discipleship with Jesus that I had never considered or encountered before. Maybe it was that he taught with a South African accent. Maybe it was because he so obviously spoke it from a place of lived experience, but it was almost as if I’d not heard it before that day. Trevor Hudson invited me into a new paradigm for the way I saw Jesus and the way He desires to weave Himself into my life. He wants to be my closest friend. 

When Jesus extended His invitation, “Come, follow me,” he turned the usual system of disciples pursuing rabbis upside down. Usually, a Jewish young man, who was the top-of-the-class heading to Harvard kind of student, would choose a rabbi (the master/great one) he wanted to become like, and ask the rabbi if he might “follow” him. The rabbi considered the student’s potential to become like him and determined if displayed the commitment to be with him, imitate his actions, and his capacity for transformation into his image. In the end, more were rejected than chosen. The few who were chosen were the elite students whose lives reflected their learning with wholeheartedness.

It was a rare, exceptional rabbi who chose his disciples. 

CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO

Enter Jesus. The rabbi who initiated with his disciples, inviting them to drop everything and follow Him. There must have been something captivating about Him that a tax collector enjoying the perks of prosperity would turn on a dime and follow Jesus, and for young men to leave their occupations and family behind without question to journey with Jesus. Unlike any rabbi before Him, He offered His followers a light and easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-30) as opposed to the “yoke of Torah,” which Jewish disciples had historically known. Living out the Torah was not considered a light and easy yoke.

To be yoked to Jesus was to be in relationship with a rabbi who perfectly kept the law, yet didn’t place a yoke of slavery upon his followers. Being yoked to Jesus was to live in communion with a rabbi who promised His disciples that He would send His Spirit to live in them, empowering them to become like Him—perfectly loving the Father and others. Being yoked to Jesus was to be known, seen, exhorted, taught, rebuked and formed by one in whom’s gaze they were transformed as they looked bad in the presence of love.

They followed him into parties, healings, preaching, exorcisms, and feastings. The one place most of them couldn’t follow Him was to His crucifixion. Only five days earlier in His triumphal entry, the people were hailing Him as king. They gladly followed Him there. It would take Pentecost to empower them to follow their rabbi to the cross.

One of the wonders of Jesus is that the Creator of the universe is a compassionate, merciful friend. After the majority of his disciples bailed out on Him in the hours of His greatest need, He resurrected from the grave and went to find His friends in order to bring restoration. After walking through walls, talking with them, and allowing them to touch His scars—he served them breakfast on the beach. He’s the kind of rabbi who never leaves us and and is committed to completing his work in us so that when we see Him face-to-face, we will be made like Him (1 John 3:2). 

Discipleship is costly, but the cost of non-discipleship costs us the experience of friendship with Jesus, a life living connected to God’s power, a life of reigning with Christ, and an indestructible life .

Over the past three years as I’ve sought to be aware of Jesus’ winsome invitation to me in friendship, I’ve been surprised how not second nature it was for me to invite Him to join me in my activities throughout my day. As I shared with Trevor a heartbreaking situation I’d encountered he asked me, “What is Jesus saying to you?”

“Hmmmm, I hadn’t thought to ask Him if He had anything to share with me.” I replied.

There’s something about the invisibility of God—and the fact that Jesus is God—that has made this shift to an awareness of moment-by-moment companionship not second nature. But slowly, I grow more aware of my lack of awareness that I’ve again, pulled up my boot straps and am striving to pull life off alone. Then I yoke myself back to Jesus, inviting Him to lead me through my next hour. And it’s becoming more natural.

One morning last week, I spent some time in tear-filled silence in our yard, grieving a loss. I grabbed the Adirondack chair a few feet away and dragged it beside me until our chairs were touching. Extending my hand on the arm of the other chair I said aloud, “Jesus, I need you to hold my hand…and I really wish you were physically here right now.” There we sat, hand in virtual hand as tears streamed down my cheeks.

How is Jesus extending His winsome invitation of friendship to you in this season?

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” —John 15:15

Written by Lisa Brockman. To read more of Lisa’s writing, visit lisabrockman.me. Her book, Out of Zion: Meeting Jesus in the Shadow of the Mormon Temple is available at https://www.amazon.com/Out-ion-eeting-hadow-ormon-book/dp/B07SVCWTCB/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1634829281&sr=8-. Instagram: lisabrockman_me. Facebook: lisahalversenbrockman and lisa brockman author page.