“Disciple” is a Verb

We’re excited to bring you a guest post today by Casey Covel, a former writer on the blog who has gone on to do great things as a writer and editor. This post is especially dear to me, though, as it’s taken from a collection she edited and to which I contributed. Thy Geekdom Come: 42-Fandom Inspired Devotionals delves into the worlds of anime, superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, and video games, relating these tales to an almighty, loving God who is ever present in our beloved franchises. It comes out for sale tomorrow and I encourage you to pick up a copy!

I have never met any person as incredible as you, Master Saitama. Even if the public doesn’t appreciate you, I will still follow you.
—Genos, One-Punch Man

Read: Matthew 28

Reflect: The quote above, said by Genos from One-Punch Man, might be words of the Apostle Peter himself, who said to Jesus, “. . . Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33). If Peter were a cyborg named Genos, equipped with sonic speed and incineration cannons, that is. And the similarities don’t stop there (nor with their mutual love of fish).

Swearing revenge on the supervillain who wiped his family off the map, Genos recklessly faces every foe as if they were his mortal enemy. He modifies his formerly human body until it has the power to effortlessly tear off antagonists’ appendages and light up entire cities with firepower. Yet one thing Genos lacks is the strength to win, no matter the odds.

Enter: Saitama. With a single, anticlimactic punch, he stops a supervillain in her tracks, right before Genos’s cybernetic eyes.

Determined to obtain Saitama’s godlike power for his revenge, Genos insists on becoming the one-hit hero’s disciple. However, the “training” Genos receives only leaves him more baffled than before.

Contrary to Genos’s very reasonable theories, Saitama has not scientifically modified his body, but rather became strong through physical training and mental fortitude alone. Unlike many other superheroes in the field, Saitama does not fight for fortune, fame, or the brutal eradication of evil, but fights merely because he wants to—a stance that results in jealous ridicule from his peers.

By the time superheroes and civilians alike have begun to turn against Saitama due to the spread of false rumours, Genos determines to stay by his master’s side, even if he is the only one willing to do so.

Why? Because there’s something different about Saitama. He doesn’t just hold the coveted key to omnipotence that hundreds of heroes undergo bodily modifications in vain to obtain; Saitama holds the key to true strength—a heroic spirit nearly extinct in a selfish society.

No longer satisfied with replicating his master’s mere physical power, Genos desires to become like Saitama on all fronts—down to his supermarket shopping skills. Genos completely loses himself in Saitama’s philosophies, and, in the process, unintentionally lets go of revenge in order to embrace the rewarding (but often thankless) life of a hero as Saitama lives it.

No doubt the Apostle Peter would choose Genos as his favourite anime character—and probably be a little jealous of Genos’s unwavering dedication. Peter also begins discipleship under his master, Jesus, with fearless fervour (we’re talking cutting off an enemy’s ear and diving into seas so stormy that even experienced sailors were afraid of them). A crude and cocky seaman, Peter often lets his temper lead him to reckless abandon—even profanely denying Christ after he declares he would never do such a thing.

Yet, like Genos, Peter also finds himself transformed through discipleship. By the time he is martyred, the Apostle Peter is a man so humble that, according to Christian tradition, he requests to be crucified upside down so as not to be made equal with Jesus.

A disciple is not just a student who passively listens to an instructor. Unlike the noun student, the word disciple is both a noun (a pupil) and a verb (to teach and train). It implies ongoing, cyclical action—opening your heart to the teachings of the master, and then instilling those teachings into others (Matthew 28:19).

Discipleship is Genos keeping a notebook on hand to scribble down every word Saitama mumbles. Discipleship is Peter tossing cultural taboo out the window by bridging the gap between the “chosen” Jewish race and the “unclean” Gentiles. Disciples are never “off duty.” They live and breathe their master’s teachings, so much so that personal agendas naturally fall into second place.

When we’re not distracted by the wind and waves, when our focus isn’t blurred by revenge against rampaging supervillains, when we’re not consumed by fear or our dreams, we’re granted supernatural vision by our master. Our purpose—that thing most of us plan to spend our lifetimes searching for—comes into focus with perfect clarity. Then, gradually, our personal ambitions either fall in line with that ultimate purpose, or transform in the most fulfilling manner to match it.

At the end of One-Punch Man’s first season, Genos watches another superhero ruthlessly dispatch a group of captive minions. Rather than be antagonized into retaliation by the perpetrator’s cruel actions and taunting words, Genos finds himself filled with pity: “He reminds me of how I was before I met Master. A man on the edge, too eager to eliminate evil.”

Genos’s transformation through discipleship is so liberating to him that he cannot help but want to extend the experience to others.

And that is one of the proofs of real discipleship under a worthy master—it doesn’t merely reinforce what we already believe about ourselves and the world around us. (This sort of “discipleship” is actually “self-worship” by a more pious name.) On the contrary, real discipleship changes us in ways we could never personally conceive of; it challenges what we believe about ourselves and the world around us.

As disciples of Christ, we become bolder (taking the gospel where no one has gone before) and more visionary. Like a league of Christ-clones, we attempt to be replicas so similar to the real deal it’s as though Christ is acting and speaking through us—no cybernetic enhancements required.

Key Scripture

“Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” —John 8:31–32

Reflection Questions

  1. What first drew you to Jesus? What made you stay at his side?
  2. What specific changes has discipleship evoked in you? How have these changes brought clarity to your identity, dreams, purpose, or perspective?
  3. Why do you think Christ chose disciples to carry on his work, rather than spreading the gospel through supernatural power?

About Thy Geekdom Come

Reprinted with permission, this devotional is from Thy Geekdom Come: 42-Fandom Inspired Devotionals (published by Mythos & Ink, 2019). Delving into the worlds of anime, superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, and video games, Thy Geekdom Come—written by a group of authors and pastors from a variety of Christian backgrounds—relates these tales to an almighty, loving God who is ever present in our beloved franchises.

Casey L. Covel is an INTJ and self-proclaimed connoisseur of chocolate, tea and sushi. She spends her free time cosplaying at Florida conventions, writing for clients around the world, gaming in the realms of Tellius and Hyrule, philosophizing about psychology and religion, collecting over 700 figurines, squinting at strange words, and watching corgi videos on YouTube.

Featured illustration by silvertea (reprinted w/permission).

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TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

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8 thoughts on ““Disciple” is a Verb

  1. Working on this project has been an absolute dream. So many talented writers and passionate fanboys/fangirls involved. Perhaps I’m biased here, but the level of depth on display–not only from biblical applications but also the layers fandom lore–is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered in another devotional. I’m honored to work with a team of such incredible people. Thank you, Beneath the Tangles, for sharing this sample. I hope everyone picks up Thy Geekdom Come when it releases tomorrow!

    1. You and Allison did a tremendous job editing, and Allison did a great job assembling the writers (Geek writers, assemble!)—I agree, this is a really special collection. We’ll be putting out the news as often as possible! So glad to be associated with the devotional!

  2. This was such a good read! Being His disciple isn’t an easy road at all, but like Genos, sticking with Jesus can slowly enrapture you to copy Him down to the way He breathes. It is indeed life changing, and I really don’t regret it one bit ❤️

  3. Never really thought about Genos as sharing so many traits with Peter. Now I’m not sure I can forget it!

    And projecting it forward, I can see Genos being the rock on which Saitama builds a better hero community…

  4. Yep!
    Hola,como estas?
    Are you ready for the Spanish exam? Lol I’m just kidding
    (It’s an inside joke we have)

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