Every disciple follows the Master, but never alone; every disciple is a member of the fellowship of disciples, the body, or no disciple at all.
Bosch makes the comment in a section on Matthew, which he calls “the gospel of the church” (Ibid.). Matthew is the only one of the four gospels that uses the word ekklesia, the Greek New Testament word for “church.” To follow Jesus is to follow him together.
As a Wesleyan, Bosch’s comments make sense to me. Christianity is never about a one-time “decision for Christ.” If we must use the word “decision,” then it should always be a “decision to follow Christ.” To decide to follow Christ is to become a disciple. As Bosch notes, “disciple” (Gk. mathetes) occurs seventy-three times in Matthew, and is “the only name for Christ’s followers in the gospels” (Ibid.).
1) To be a Christian is to be a disciple, and
2) To be a disciple is to follow Jesus with other disciples;
3) To follow with other disciples means being part of the body of disciples, the Church.
If I could identify the greatest weakness of American Christianity, it is this. Somehow we’ve latched on to the notion that being “saved” has no necessary connection with the ongoing, everyday decision to follow, to be a disciple, to be part of the Church. Is it the individualism woven into our American DNA that blinds us to the corporate nature of Christian faith?
Thank you, Mr. Bosch, for giving us lots to think about.