Several days a week I receive an email from the Ravi Zacharias Ministries. The content of these emails is usually very provocative. Therefore, I was not disappointed when I received the following quote from one the ministries’ associate teachers, Alex Stark, “Christianity is not a crash course. It is a life of apprenticeship to Jesus. It begins with meeting Him, continues by following Him, and ends by being made like Him.”
We live in a day and age that gives us information in bite-sized morsels and crash courses on most topics that can be learned in six to twelve easy lessons. We have little patience for long and drawn out processes.
In recent years I have met several master craftsmen whose craft is not learned at the university level but through hands on apprenticeships. When I have asked them about the training of the next generation of craftsmen, they have all told me the same thing, “The youth of today want to be an expert in a very short period of time and have no stomach for an apprenticeship that might take years to complete, even though at the end of the apprenticeship they would be masters of a craft that only one in thousands of people might master.
This is the culture in which the church of today must speak, regarding Christian discipleship. And I fear we have let the culture influence a discipleship process that truly takes a lifetime. Even among Christian books we often see titles that included, “Seven Steps to…” I’ll let you fill in the blank.
The Apostle Paul spoke of the growing in Christ process by saying, “…we all are being transformed into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another” (II Corinthians 3:18).
When will this apprenticeship be over? When will we be like the master who is training us? The Apostle John gives us that answer, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).
There it is! Our apprenticeship will conclude when we meet Jesus face to face. The Christian life is not a sprint to the finish line, it is an ultra-marathon that takes years of faith, discipline, fortitude, and patience. I have been serving the Lord Jesus for the past 47 years and have come to realize that I’ve only scratched the surface of discovering who He really is and cooperating with His processes in my life so that I might be more and more, with each passing day, “…useful to the Master, ready for every good work…” (II Timothy 2:3).
Perhaps we all ought to copy the quote from Alex Stark on a 3 X 5 card and affix it in a prominent place where we will be continually reminded that our apprenticeship in Christ will not end until we see Him face to face.