Monday, February 18, 2013

The Frisco Kid and Discipleship

Good morning.  (I have to add a note today, before I get started.  I just checked my stats, and today my blog's "odometer" hit 40,000 page views!  Woohoo!  Time to get the oil changed, the tires rotated, and the spark plugs replaced!

Today is the first day of the seventh week, reading the Bible through together in 2013.  Our scripture this week is:
  • Exodus 32-34; Philippians 3
  • Exodus 35-37; Phil 4; Psalm 26
  • Exodus 38-40; Hebrews 1;
  • Leviticus 1-3; Heb 2; Psalm 27
  • Lev 4-7; Heb 3
There is so much I could write about today!  From Exodus, I could write about the golden calf, and the fact that we are also idolaters when we put other things before our relationship with God.  I could talk about Moses' anger in breaking the tablets that God had written on with a divine hand, and how through our anger we often destroy what God brings about in our lives.  I could talk about God's glory or the "cleft of the rock" experience, and how we can experience God and talk with God as a friend.  I could talk about picking up the pieces and renewing that which is broken in our lives, even as Moses remade the tablets.  Or, looking at Philippians, I could talk about having no confidence in the flesh, or straining toward the goal.  Instead, I think I'll highlight two verses that might otherwise go unnoticed:

Exodus 33:11 ESV
Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

Philippians 3:17 ESV
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

I told my congregation that this year, they'd be hearing more than they ever wanted to hear about discipleship--that they'd hear so much about it, that they'd want to become disciples themselves, just to get me off their backs.  Today, the theme of discipleship just leaps off the pages of the Bible.

In the 1979 comedy western film The Frisco Kid, a hapless rabbi named Avram (Gene Wilder) comes to America from Poland in hopes of taking on a new congregation and a bride--both of which await him in San Francisco.  He takes on the most unlikely traveling companion, a bank robber named Tommy (Harrison Ford) who never shoots anybody in his heists.  The rabbi knows nothing about traveling in America, and thinks that the bank robber has something to teach him about survival in the west.  Together they share many misadventures as they make their way from the east coast to the west coast.  In a voiceover, the rabbi narrates: "In the Talmud, it says 'find thyself a teacher' and this I have done. However, there were times I feared that he would find another pupil."

Just as the rabbi found an unlikely teacher in the bank robber, so we can find teachers in the strangest places.  Every one of us needs a teacher.  Even teachers need teachers.  And you might be surprised at the people God brings into your life, to disciple you.  

In Exodus, we see Joshua learning how to meet with God by watching Moses.  We can only assume that he became an imitator of Moses in his own prayer life, and in the way he would eventually lead the people after Moses was gone.  In Philippians, Paul encourages the people to imitate him, and also to keep their eyes on others who walk in godliness.  In The Frisco Kid (as seen in this picture), Avram learns what to do in many situations by imitating what he sees Tommy do.  

Today, I wonder--who are the people that God has placed in your life, that you can imitate as you grow in godliness?  Then let me ask--is there anything in you that's worth imitating, as those who come after you may look to you as an example?  God wants us to grow as disciples.  Then He wants to us to become disciplers ourselves.  I pray that you will grow in both ways.

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