by David Sisler

In America we say public school education is failing. We blame the curriculum. We blame the administration. We blame the teachers. We should blame ourselves because we have let our teachers down.

The greatest fault in the American classroom is a lack of discipline. If a teacher tries to discipline the students, the teacher is reprimanded, either publicly or privately. The teacher may be subjected to a lawsuit that in all likelihood the student will win.

As a result, many teachers do not discipline and without discipline, they cannot teach.

I recently heard something which immediately caused me to stop and take notice. An animal expert was being interviewed.

He said, "There is no such thing as juvenile delinquency within the animal kingdom, because in the animal kingdom, no offspring is allowed to do as he pleases. Within the animal kingdom, there is discipline."

Ask any soldier, anywhere in the world, "What is the key to being a soldier in the army of your nation?"

That soldier will give you a one word answer, "Discipline."

If you ask him to explain, he will say, "Only after you learn discipline can you learn to be a soldier. Any fool can get into a uniform and say, 'I want to fight for my country. I am willing to die for it.' But if he is undisciplined, there is no way he can benefit his country."

When Jesus called twelve men to follow Him, twelve men into whom He was going to invest three and one half years, twelve men into whom He was going to pour his life, what did He name them?

Did He call them learners?

Did He call them followers?

No, He called them disciples, men under discipline.

We like the idea of a disciple being learners or followers. We forget that a learner must have a teacher to whom he is under discipline. We forget that a follower must have a leader to whom he is under discipline.

One day Jesus sent His disciples out under discipline. Up until this point they had been with Him continually. Up until this moment He had provided for their every need. Now they were being asked to go empty handed and trust someone else.

He sent them out in pairs. "Do not go by yourself," Jesus said. "Go with someone who can encourage you when you become discouraged. If you are alone and you become discouraged, the chances are you will stop following me."

"Take nothing for your journey," Jesus said, "except a staff to help you walk over rough terrain and to lean on when you become tired. Take no weapon of defense. Take no extra change of clothing. Take no extra money. Do not even take provisions for your next meal. Do not worry about where you will sleep."

Why would Jesus do that?

So that His disciples would learn discipline. So that they would learn that in whatever circumstance they might find themselves, they would know the discipline of trusting Him. So that they might know what it is like to be without any apparent protection other than His invisible presence. So that they would know they could count on Him when there was no one else on whom they could depend, not even themselves.

That is the kind of discipline to which Jesus is still calling men and women. It is the kind of discipline which the organized church almost always hides, or at least disguises.

"Come to Jesus," we say, "and your troubles will be over."

"Come to me," Jesus says, "and pick up your cross and carry your cross and die on your cross. Follow me and be a man or a woman under discipline."

You may have provided for yourself--protection, food, clothing, shelter. If you were deprived of those things, could you survive? If you have placed yourself under the discipline of Jesus, by His grace, you can.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 1/28/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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