Master and Apprentice

“Always two there are, master and apprentice.” ~ Yoda

On Sunday at Watershed we looked at John 5:19-20 and saw it as a ‘parable of apprenticeship.’  (Wes Howard-Brook)

Jesus watching the Father to see how he acts, and to act likewise in the world.

watching, learning, doing

We noted that throughout history, fathers have taught their sons a particular trade.

NT Wright notes:

“This is becoming more rare today in the Western world, but there are still plenty of places where it is the normal and expected thing for sons to follow fathers into the family business.  And, particularly where the business involves working at a skilled trade with one’s hands, apprenticeship means literally being side by side, with the son watching every move that the father makes and learning to do it in exactly the same way.  That is how many traditional skills are handed down from generation to generation, sometimes over hundreds of years.”

Listen to John 5:19-20 in light of this:

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.”

NT Wright notes that Jesus is explaining more fully how it is that Israel’s God is working in a new way, and how he, Jesus is watching carefully to see how it’s being done, so as to do it alongside the father and in keeping with his style and plan.

This is exactly what Jesus has said earlier in v.17:  “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working.”

In my reading this morning at the home of my new Minnesota couchsurfing friends (though I guess I’m the one who’s couchsurfing!), I came across Mark Scandrette’s Practicing the Way of Jesus.  (Apparently he’ll be at the conference later this week).

An appropriate book in light of what we studied together on Sunday.  Here’s a taste from the first chapter:

“In a holistically-oriented culture, skeptical people are less convinced by purely rational arguments about why Christianity is true, and more curious to see whether Christian belief and practice actually make a positive difference in the character of a person’s life.  Knowing the transformational promise of the gospel, it is fair to ask whether a person who claims to have a relationship with Jesus exhibits more peace and less stress, handles crisis with more grace, experiences less fear and anxiety, manifests more joy, is overcoming anger and their addictions or compulsions, enjoys more fulfilling relationships, exercises more compassion, lives more consciously or loves more boldly.  In any culture, but especially in one that yearns for holistic integration, the most compelling argument for the validity of the Christian faith is a community that practices the way of Jesus by seeking a life together in the kingdom of love (John 13:35).

And yet, a tremendous gap exists in our society between the way of radical love embodied and taught by Jesus and the reputation and experience of the average Christian.  We simply aren’t experiencing the kind of whole-person transformation that we instinctively long for (and that a watching world expects to see).

This suggests the need for a renewed understanding of the gospel and more effective approaches to discipleship.  Though our understanding of the gospel is becoming more holistic, our most prevalent formation practices don’t fully account for this.  We can be frustrated by this gap and become critics, or be inspired by a  larger vision of the kingdom and get creative.

I believe what is needed,   in this transitional era, are communities of experimentation — creative spaces where we have permission to ask questions and take risks together to practice the Way.”

If you haven’t read Scandrette’s book – pick up a copy, or borrow a friend’s.  Hoping to get a copy for the Watershed library!

Love to hear thoughts/reactions on what it means for us to be apprentices, disciples, to be those who live in the way of Jesus, and don’t just talk about it.

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