We are getting so close to Christmas and the New Year, you can just hear the wrapping paper being stripped from gifts. My three year old son has tried to convince me everyday for a week now that today is in fact Christmas Day. His excitement for gift opening and new toys is palatable. It takes ever ounce of self-control in his body to not run to the tree and rip open every gift, even the ones for his sister, Claire. I am not big on Christmas, but his excitement is contagious.
Now, think back with for a bit. If you are a follower of Christ (and I hope you are, if not, I would love to share with you what all the fuss is about), were you very excited about being a Jesus follower this year? Or was it just another year for you? Were you more excited in the past than you currently are? Don’t fear, I am not here to judge or throw bibles at you! ‘Cause that would hurt! I am simply wanting to draw us into a way of life that will lead to a more exciting and growing season of following Jesus. I have struggled with lack of excitement and purpose at times as well. So it is safe for you to admit to yourself and God that your passion and enthusiasm isn’t what it used to be. It is not ok to stay that way.
I believe the lack of passion and purpose can often be rooted in disobedience. I am not talking about blatant disobedience, like committing adultery, stealing, lying, breaking the law, etc. I am talking about just not pursuing and acting on what God has made clear in His Word. It may be something you have never really considered or that you have thought it was someone else’s job, like the pastor, Sunday school teacher, or missionaries abroad. The missing ingredient is disciple making.
Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
I think what we miss and often overlook is our responsibility given with this Great Commission. All believers are to be disciple making machines as soon as they receive the free gift of salvation. Far too often in many churches, the work of Christ is done in our life when receive salvation. Discipleship is then relegated to one sermon Sunday mornings and a Sunday School class if you are super dedicated. What if Jesus had a different plan in mind for disciple making? Sadly, many churches model for discipleship looks something like this. Get saved, baptized, come to church faithfully to absorb loads of information, give tithe, and we will see you next week. The problem with this model is that it doesn’t lead to spiritual growth. This is more of a college class with graduation at death. Sadly, you can spend your entire life missing out on the exciting adventure that is disciple making in that kind of setting, all the while thinking you are living right.
But if you cue in on some the keys words or points of Jesus’ mission statement for believers, you get the sense that we might be missing something all together. Consider this:
- All Authority: Everything that He left on earth for his disciples to do would be done by His authority and His power. Not by our strength or initiative, but His.
- Go: The opposite of come and sit is go, or as you go about your regular life.
- Make disciples of all nations: The underlying thought here is that you must first be a disciple before you make them. You need to be in a growing relationship with Christ and then share what you have received with others. Share excessively, not sparingly. We are to take the message across the street as well as around the globe.
- Baptizing: This word kind of gets lost in translation with our Western culture minds. In ancient times as well as in hostile regions of the world, being baptized into the Christ following faith represented you turning your back on the prevailing religion of the land, possibly family, and potential loss of inheritance. To be baptized was saying yes to Jesus and possible death plus saying no to all the comforts of home. If you get baptized in the states, people applaud you and throw a party sometimes. In other parts of the world, being baptized meant your family would consider you dead to them.
- Teaching them to observe the ways of Jesus: Many people don’t consider themselves teachers or able to teach, and this might be true. I don’t consider it one of the highest gifts that I have either. Yet it is part of the command. We are to teach the new believers the ways of Jesus so they can live it and then go teach someone else. Before the excuses get to flying round the room like a rubber ball that you can’t teach. Consider this scenario oh “non-teacher” (sarcasm, just in case you missed it). Your football team is playoff bound and a naysayer comes up dissing your team and says they stink. What do you do in response? Probably like most, you defend your team with stats, predictions, ESPN analytics, trash talk, etc. You take what you know and inform them how they are wrong….with love, right!!! Really that is what teaching is, taking what you know, experienced, heard, studied and giving someone the information that will lead to transformation. We can inform people about politics, sports, hobbies, jobs, kids, and even things we know little about, like the google machine. Yet, when it comes to teaching people about Jesus, oh that is reserved for preachers, teachers, and scholars. Wrong!!! Jesus included it for even the newest and most clueless of believers. No excuses!
- Witnesses: What are we witnesses of? Simply put, witnesses of what we have seen and experienced.We are witnesses to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through the accounts left for us in Scripture. The cool thing about being an eye witness is that your story doesn’t have to be like any one else’s because it is your view of what happened. Tell your story about Jesus and what he is doing in your life to anyone who will listen. Never underestimate the power of your personal story.
The last thing to consider about the Great Commission is the fact that all believers are in this together. We aren’t doing this by ourselves, although it may feel like it at times. Jesus even promises to be with us in this endeavor. We are a sent out people with a great purpose to share the good news of Jesus Christ and expand the Kingdom of God worldwide. If you need a jumpstart to your faith, try being obedient by making disciples. One quick note before you run out the door to get started. Disciple making is slow and sometimes a messy process. Receiving salvation only takes a minute, but following Jesus as a disciple takes the rest of your life. Just remember that trying reach people for Jesus and then helping them to learn to trust and follow him is more like a crock-pot than a microwave. You will have to meet with them a lot, encourage them, instruct them, rebuke them, steer them at times, motivate them, and challenge them to be more like Christ. Jesus spend everyday for 3 years with 12 men before they ever really understood what they were doing. So don’t be discouraged by the length of time it takes. Honestly speaking, it is worth any sacrifice to be more obedient to Jesus. You never know how Jesus will use you to make a difference in the lives of others. Many people have invested in me along the way, I can’t be grateful enough for that. Hopefully, someone will be grateful for how you pointed them to Jesus one day. Start praying that God would stir your heart up to begin disciple making. In this phase of life, my wife and I are making disciples of our two small children. Claire can’t even talk yet, so we have quite a long process ahead of us that will be worth it in the end.
Grace and Peace to you as seek to be obedient to the disciple making call of Jesus on your life!! Next week, I will give you some practical ideas to start disciple making right were you are now.