What’s the difference between a disciple of Jesus and a good person? There are good people in every religion as also in secular humanism, then what makes Christ’s disciple different? The conversation between Jesus and Nichodemus, a good man, leader of his people, suggests that the difference lies in a radical transformation brought about by God’s Spirit. It lies in the source of inspiration. The human spirit is ambivalent: capable of rising to great heights, but also able to descend to the darkest depths of depravity. The Holy Spirit is not ambivalent, but is utterly consistent – true to the heart of the Creator as revealed in Jesus Christ. Those who put their faith in him (as the people of Israel put their faith in the bronze snake according to the story in Numbers 21:5-9) enter into the life of God’s kingdom which is LIFE indeed. God’s love is demonstrated in this: he gave Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, to the people of the world so that all who place their trust in him may share in this life. God does not want to see the world condemned to its self-imposed destruction; God wants all people to be saved from the sin-infection that has made humanity sick. The way is offered in and through Jesus the Christ, empowered by the Spirit of God. A disciple is a learner, one who is on the way, one who has not yet arrived but who is aware of the direction to be taken. Those who follow Jesus are being led toward the form of existence where God’s will is perfectly and completely done, where everyone and everything is in harmonious relationship with God and with each other (shalom), where life is lived in love to God and to neighbour. It is not the every-day reality we encounter. That’s why it is referred to as belonging to the future – “May your kingdom come.” But it can be discerned in the present and lived by the power of God’s Spirit.
- If the source of inspiration for the disciple of Jesus is the Spirit of God, what other spirits inspire people?
- What evidence do you see for saying that humanity without the Spirit of God is condemned to a self-imposed destruction? Is this true of individual people?
- John 3:16 is perhaps the most frequently quoted verse in the Bible. What is meant by believing in God’s Son?
- A disciple is a learner, one who is on the way, one who has not yet arrived at the destination but who knows the one to follow. What have you learnt today that will help you on your discipleship journey?