Friday, September 10, 2021

Covered In The Dust of My Rabbi
- My Journey As a Disciple of Jesus Christ

For a couple of months now I've been watching the series, Practicing The Way with Jon Mark Comer who is the pastor of Bridgetown Church. I haven't spoken about it much here, because it's never been my goal for my blog to be "preachy". But this week someone shared with me that a good writer writes about the things they want to know about or need to hear, and since the focus of my blog is about living intentionally, slowly and seasonally, I've found that what I'm learning about being a disciple and apprentice of Jesus, is a perfect fit. And so I've decided to share. But please know that I am no expert. I come to you, not as someone who has this all figured out, but as someone who struggles with these issues daily, and who strives to find the balance. And please know, as well, that if this type of post isn't something that suits you, then I invite you to check back another day for something that does, I won't be offended. And with that, I'll begin with a question;

Did you now that when Jesus told the disciples that if they would follow Him that He would make them fishers of men, that wasn't just some funny pun? Because I'll be honest, I always kind of thought it was. But let me tell you what I've learned, because I think it's BEAUTIFUL!

During the time that Jesus was in ministry, He was known as a rabbi, and to follow a rabbi was to apprentice under a rabbi. In the first century, discipleship was the apex of the Jewish education system and there were three levels.

1. Bett Sephor - which was for both men and women (something I never knew!)
Bett Sephor is the Hebrew word for "House of the Book". This level was basically grade school, where you would be taught to read, write and do basic math, and learn it all from the Bible. You would also memorize all, or at least most, of the Torah, which is the first five books of the Old Testament.

This level of education was typically completed by the age of twelve. After this young women typically married around the age of thirteen or fourteen and began having children. Young men would apprentice under their father and learn a trade, and, obviously, marry those young women.

But the best students went on to the next level;

2. Bet Talmud
Bet Talmud is a Hebrew word meaning, "House of Learning".  The school was built off of the side of the synagogue and was for men aged 12-14, and men only. They were taught by a paid teacher, and among other things, would memorize some, if not all, of the Old Testament.

After this, only the best of the best moved ahead to become . . .

3. Talmidim, which is an apprentice to a rabbi.
This level of education was very hard to reach. You had to be interviewed by a rabbi who when interrogate you on your biblical knowledge. And if you exhibited the knowledge and qualities to perhaps become a future rabbi, he would invite you into the school by saying three words;

"Come follow me."

Sound familiar?

At this point you would have three goals as the apprentice of a rabbi.

The first;
- To be with your rabbi.
Apprenticeship was a 24-hour school day. You slept, ate, walked and lived with your Rabbi.

A well known Hebrew blessing was, "May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi."
Meaning that you would follow him so closely, that you would be covered by the dust that his walking created.

The second goal was;
- To become like your rabbi.

And finally the third goal as an apprentice to a rabbi was;

- To do what your rabbi did.

The whole point of an apprenticeship was for the student to one day become a rabbi.

So when Jesus found Peter, James and the others on the shore that day, He said to them;

"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men", and that phrase, "fishers of men" was a well known Hebrew idiom for "TEACHER". A great rabbi, or teacher, was called a "fisher of men" because he would capture your mind and your imagination.  

So what Jesus was really saying was, "Hey, right now you're a fisherman, but come follow me (become my apprentice), and I will make you a great teacher."

And perhaps the most beautiful thing about this story, is that most likely none of those men made it past the first level of education. They were not "the best of the best", because head knowledge was not what Jesus was looking for. They were just average, ordinary men. The trade they had been taught from their father was fishing. They never saw themselves as much, but Jesus, did.

From then on, they spent time with Jesus, they became like Jesus, and in time, they did the things that Jesus did.

So what does this mean for us? Well, it's easy, really. To apprentice under Jesus in the 21st century, we do the same thing. We center our lives around those same three goals.

- To be with Jesus.
- To become like Jesus.
- To do the things that Jesus did.

Because the truth is, we're all being formed into the image of, or a disciple of someone or something. The question is not are we being formed, but what are we being formed into?

I didn't like that answer when it was first presented to me, and I've made it my goal to be covered in the dust of my Rabbi as His apprentice and disciple. I'm learning more, every day about the spiritual disciplines and practices that Jesus taught His disciples, and as a result, my desire to live with greater intention, at a slower pace, and in rhythm with the seasons is becoming much easier. Again, I'm no expert, far from it! But thankfully, as His disciple, His grace accounts for my humanity and imperfections, just as it did for the disciples.  Jesus doesn't care about your past, about your profession or what other choices you've made with your life. It doesn't matter how little you think of yourself, if you believe you aren't gifted or have nothing to offer. Jesus has never been about the "best of the best", His focus was always upon "the least of these".  His invitation is simple, follow me, and in doing so, He does the rest.

I'll be sharing more about all of this, about my daily time of silence and solitude, my weekly sabbath, about prayer and fasting. And later, as I learn more about my identity and calling, living simply, and developing a Rule of Life (I had actually already begun this in an earlier series). And finally, as the focus turns to eating and drinking with others and living in community, about prayer and peacemaking, I'll be sharing all of it, here, with you.

Again, if this isn't something you are interested in, I completely understand.  I'll be writing about other things, too. But to be honest, this is transforming my life in such a way, that I don't even know how to separate the two anymore. 

And hopefully if you've been encouraged by anything you've read here today, then I invite you to click on those links above and listen to Practicing The Way for yourself.  I'm taking my time working through it, because as I mentioned earlier, it is a LOT! At least for me. When I first started out I was listening to one sermon a day, but I was taking so many notes that it was taking me 3-4 hours just to get through it and I wasn't retaining as much as I would have preferred. So I decided to slow down. The luxury of these online sermons is that you can take as much time as you need. So now I listen for about 30 minutes to an hour Monday-Friday, usually an hour, but some days I have to keep it shorter. Then on Saturday I will go back and review my notes and if there's anything I think I missed, I go back and listen to it again. On Sunday's I watch a completely different series, but typically with a similar theme. Right now I'm listening to Invitation to Stillness from The Practice, and I'm really enjoying it.

And now I'll close. I'm actually going to be doing some seasonal planning this weekend to make sure I'm intentional about what I want to do during Autumn. I tend to want to do all-the-things, so I'm trying to be realistic about my time, resources and budget and narrow it down to the best things.  If you have a favorite series that you've listened to, I hope you'll share it in the comments. I have several others bookmarked for the future, but I'm always looking for more.

Until then, my friends, PEACE.

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