Back to school

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School is back in session. Honestly, I’m glad those years are behind me. The routine of classes, lectures, reading, homework, projects, speeches, exams, and report cards—not to mention practice for extracurricular activities—oh, I feel anxious just thinking about it! I’ll be stepping back into that world myself in a couple of years, but as a parent and not as a student. Apparently, much to learn, I still have.

Our childhood education shapes us into the adults we’ll become, and the Bible emphasizes education as central to being truly human in this world. We’re dependent on others providing not only the information we need to move forward, but also the models to show us how life is lived well.

For Jesus’ followers, this educational process is called discipleship. Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples, a lifelong process that’s primarily characterized by “teaching them to observe” everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Thus, discipleship is about learning to obey Jesus. The goal isn’t just to get an education or a diploma, but to be like Jesus, to walk as he walked (Matthew 10:25; 1 John 2:6).

How do we get there? If “like Jesus” is the diploma, what does the education actually look like? The curriculum is Jesus as he’s presented to us in the Bible; we actually have to learn what he taught, learn what he commanded, and learn what he’s done for us and promised to us, or we certainly can’t obey him. But he also didn’t intend for us to attend class alone; the classroom isn’t only inhabited by one teacher and one student, or just the student and the textbook. We will walk like Jesus with others, or not at all.

But our peers don’t guarantee our success. Who ensures that we’ll graduate? The Holy Spirit actually transforms us; he’s the one who gives spiritual life, grows it, and shapes it into its mature form (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Discipleship, therefore, depends on the person of Jesus, our peers in the faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and school is always in session.

Mr. Justin Langley is Minister of Discipleship of Kilgore Bible Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.kilgorebiblechurch.org.

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