Dallas Willard in The Great Omission writes,
“the greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heart-breaking needs, is whether those, who by profession or culture are identified as ‘Christians’ with become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence. Will they break out of the churches to be his Church – to be, without human force or violence, his mighty force for good on earth, drawing the churches after them toward the eternal purposes of God? And, on its own scale, there is no greater issue facing the individual human being, Christian or not.”
Now what does he mean by disciple of Jesus Christ? He defines it this way: “The disciple is one who, intent upon becoming Christ-like and so dwelling in his ‘faith and practice,’ systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end.”
A disciple is a learner. If you want to learn anything you must be willing to study it, to attempt to do it, to practice it, to give time to it. You cannot learn to be or do anything casually. You have to be intentional. You have to give time to it. I cannot play golf or tennis without taking lessons and by working at it every time I play. I cannot paint or write casually. I have to apply myself to it. Being a Christian is not something you can practice for an hour a week. To be a Christian means spending time with Jesus every moment of every day. It means walking with Jesus through the day. It means talking and listening to Jesus through his Word and prayer. What image do you have of this Jesus? Is he someone you want to be seen with in public? Are you proud of him or embarrassed by him?
Willard again: “In our culture, and among Christians as well, Jesus Christ is automatically disassociated from brilliance or intellectual capacity. Not one in a thousand will spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as ‘well-informed,’ ‘brilliant,’ or ‘smart.’
Far too often he is regarded as hardly conscious. He is taken as a mere icon, a wraithlike semblance of a man living on the margins of ‘real life’ where you and I must dwell. He is perhaps fit for the role of sacrificial lamb or alienated social critic, but little more.
But can we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if he were not smart? If he were divine, would he be dumb? Or uninformed? Once you stop to think about it, how could he be what Christians take him to be in other respects and not be the best informed and most intelligent person of all – the smartest person who ever lived, bringing us the best information on the most important subjects.
What lies at the heart of the astonishing disregard of Jesus found in the moment-to-moment existence of multitudes of professing Christians is a simple lack of respect for him. He is not seriously taken to be a person of great ability. But how, then, can we admire him? And what can devotion or worship mean if simple respect is not included in it?
In contrast, the early Christians, who took the power of God’s life in Jesus to all quarters of the earth, thought of Jesus as one ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3). They thought of him as master of every domain of life…. They learned to do everything they said or did in cooperative action with Jesus, their always present teacher.”
Can I take Jesus with me every place I go? Am I comfortable with him listening to every conversation? Can I ask for his guidance on every purchase I make? Is he beside me on the couch as I watch television? Can I seek his wisdom in the issues of life? Can I rely upon his guidance in my relationships and my conversations? If he is with us to the end of the age, then he is with us all the time. Acknowledging this is a first step in learning to be a disciple, a follower, an apprentice, of Jesus.