“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
We’ve seen in the Gospel, that Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations. But, what in the world does that mean? What does it look like? The actual definition of disciple is the following: One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. At the risk of over generalizing, I believe the majority of Christians in our society have no problem with the idea of embracing the teachings of Jesus. We agree that reading the Bible is important. Some of us attend weekly Bible studies and small groups. Many of us spend time memorizing God’s Word. This is the “easy” part. However, for many of us, the stumbling block is the idea of “spreading the teachings” of Jesus.
Plainly stated, the call on our lives is very clear: We are to make disciples of all nations. We are to teach others the ways of our faith, the truth of the Gospel. But, here’s a reality check: How many of us are living out our faith in this capacity? How many of us are introducing others to the Lord and walking with them? How many of us are investing time in others, and mentoring them, just as Jesus did with his twelve disciples?
Our goal as Christians, as disciples, is not to simply know the Word of God, we are to multiply. In essence, the key to discipleship is not just soaking in God’s Word… we must pass it on. James, the half-brother of Jesus, says it best: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) My friends, these words serve as a fierce warning… and I have to admit that they terrify me. I look at my own life and see very little fruit in this area. Discipleship hasn’t even been on my radar... but it needs to be.
At some point in our history, we’ve distorted the true essence of discipleship… in some cases, it’s been forgotten altogether. In its place, we have “created a church culture where the paid ministers do the ‘ministry,’ and the rest of us show up, put some money in the plate, and leave feeling inspired or ‘fed.’ We have moved so far away from Jesus’ command that many Christians don’t have a frame of reference for what disciple making looks like.” (Making Disciples Study Guide, 2012) But, don’t despair… because Jesus left us the most perfect example.
Jesus spent three years of his life in the company of 12 men. And of those men, there were three with which He shared an even closer bond. He opened up His life. He shared the teachings of His Father. He spoke truth… even when it was hard to hear. He invested Himself… all of Himself… for the sake of the Gospel. And as I write, I can’t help but wonder whether the real reason discipleship isn’t a priority in my life is because I don’t really want to make that kind of effort. I don’t want to invest that kind of time… I don’t even HAVE that kind of time! And let’s be honest… living a life completely committed to the Gospel would change everything. It would change us.
And, isn’t that the point?
Is discipleship a part of your walk as a Christian? Spend time thinking about the purpose of discipleship and our role in spreading the Gospel. If you have about 30 minutes, I challenge you to watch some new videos from Francis Chan and David Platt at http://multiplymovement.com (I’m warning you… this is pretty challenging stuff!) Our family will be participating in the webcast on November 9th and we encourage you to consider doing the same.