The Call

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It’s funny how some things you can hear your whole life and not understand them at all. For example, I’ve heard the terms disciple and apostle since before I was old enough to even comprehend them. In Sunday School, they would talk about the apostles and the disciples, and to me, the two were intertwined, interchangeable, and really actually synonyms for each other.

That’s why when I learned that they are not synonyms last week, I was so blown away. Each term means something different. They each have to do with your relationship with Jesus, but they are not synonymous terms.

A disciple (which I knew) is a “follower.” A disciple is a student of a teacher, one who is in training.

An apostle, on the other hand, is one who goes out to share and teach the message.

So in relation to Jesus, you can be a disciple but not an apostle, but you cannot be a true apostle without first and foremost being or having been a disciple.

It was interesting when we were watching the video that designated the difference because my oldest daughter who is 17 was watching it with me at the time. Recently she was called to be the teen director of a large teen retreat in our area. The day she was called (literally on the phone), they told her she could think about it and pray about it and to let them know when she had decided.

Now I’ve lived with this girl for 17 years. I know her about as well as anyone, and I figured she would make that call immediately and tell them yes. When she didn’t for several hours, I went in to talk with her about it.

My first question was, “Do you want to do it?” To which she said, “Yeah, I kind of do.” But with this shrinking, shoulder shrug kind of thing. I said, “Okay, so why aren’t you calling them back?” To which she said, “I don’t know if I can. That’s a big responsibility.”

So I told her what I’ve learned, “You’re right. You can’t, but God can and He’ll be with you and do it through you. If you want to and you say yes, all you have to do is be willing and He can do it through you.” So a while later, she called them back and said, “Yes.”

The interesting thing was that she had already served on the teen retreat team several times. This was the next, most logical step. So I couldn’t account for why it seemed like such a leap for her — until we watched this video.

Afterward I said to her, “Is that why you were so freaked out? Because before you were a disciple, and now you were being called to be an apostle?”

She smiled this little, sheepish smile and nodded.

Everyone is on their own road, “the way” as the early Christian called it. Some have been called for this time to be disciples, to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn. To me, the posture of a disciple is sitting, enthralled, soaking it all in, learning. Mary, Martha’s sister, sitting at the feet of Jesus comes to mind.

However, there may well come a time when you are called to take what you’ve learned, to get up and go. An apostle’s posture is standing, going, moving. You are called to “go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” The picture I have in my head of this is St. Paul, walking those dusty roads, writing those letters, going where God told him to go and doing what God told him to do.

For me, I also see how the two terms work together. There are times when I’m a disciple–learning, reading, watching, absorbing. And there are times when I’m an apostle–speaking, writing, leading. If you are called to be an apostle, don’t ever forget to be a disciple too. And if you’re a disciple, don’t think that is all you will ever be called to do because you, like my daughter, may one day get a call–literal or spiritual–to go out and share what you’ve been given.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2013

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. You can check out one of Staci’s Best-Selling Christian Romances…

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