The Bible says we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, go make disciples of all nations, to thoroughly equip man for every good work, build up the church, engage the lost, and glorify God in every way. If we had to take an honest assessment of ourselves right now, can we say we are actually making disciples?
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
If you were to lookup the definition for a disciple you would get results such as “One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another,” “An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy,” and “One of the original followers of Jesus”. So then, what is a disciple?
Jonathan Dodson says in his book Gospel Centered Discipleship, “Disciple is an identity; everything else is a role.” I think this is an awesome definition. Being a disciple of Jesus defines who we are and the lives we live. However, I think there are 3 mindsets that we in the church often, and unfortunately, embrace:
We Aren’t Mature or Wise Enough
Think for a minute of the excitement that came over you when you became a believer and surrendered your life to Christ. Nothing could compare to the thought of all your past, present, and future sins being forgiven, primarily because nothing can compare to it. It’s an amazing reality that is just as true today as it was when you first believed. But what happened after that? You started reading the Bible and realized being a Christian is a life long process and in fact, believing in Christ is just the beginning.
The problem is we have a tendency to lose the joy and excitement from the Gospel, and start to believe that we don’t know enough of the Bible or are mature enough to talk to others about Christ, especially disciple someone. This is a flat out lie. Simply not true. Most of us live in areas where if we really thought about it, we know tons of information and the fact we know anything more on top of the Gospel, proves that.
We can start with the Gospel, that is enough. Use the Gospel message as the foundation and starting line for your discussions with others as you get involved in making disciples.
It’s Not Our Role, It’s The Churches
There are numerous roles God calls us to. Some are bankers, lawyers, doctors, janitors, preachers, and pilots. We’ve grown accustomed to the thought that the “Church” can take care of doing the ministry work, not us. So when it comes to discipleship, we let the “ministry leaders” take care of that.
We lose the fact that being a disciple is our identity. Once we become believers, we are changed, forever. We are to “put off the old self, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:22-24). This is great encouragement because Scripture points out that we are all disciples! We are called to make disciples within our roles.
It’s Not Really That Important
First and foremost, Jesus commands it. Go back in time and think about the context of when Jesus speaks in Matthew 28:18-20. He performed miracles, healed people, spread the Word of God, was crucified days before, and just recently rose from the dead. I don’t know about you, but if I heard of this person or literally witnessed His death and He was going to say something to me, you better believe I would be listening pretty intently.
This is one of the last statements He makes before returning to the Father. It’s an important command we just can’t ignore. Everyone in the crowd is worthy of being a disciple-maker because Jesus says so. There is no scale or measure of performance we must get to before we can start discipleship. He also says He is with us always, meaning the Holy Spirit will always be here with us, leading us in discipleship.
So if we are to make disciples, what would that entail? Is that simply a 30 second phone call saying “Good job buddy, keep up the good work” or a 5 minute topic of Scripture and then you just go back to your regular “normal” life? Or instead, is it actually investing time in one another, really listening to them and connecting with them, finding out what they are going through, effectively utilizing scripture making it useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)?
Discipleship for me personally involves my wife, daughter, leaders of LifeGroups (small groups), brothers and sisters in Christ, and the lost. These are the roles God has currently placed me in and therefore, calling me to make disciples in these spheres of influences.
“Disciple is an identity; everything else is a role.”
How I’m involved in discipleship with my wife for example, means reading the Bible together, praying daily individually and as a couple, encouraging one another with Scripture in our relationships & trials with others, and challenging each other to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s my experience that often times, when we are uncomfortable with what God is leading us to do, those are the times of experiencing growth and true dependency on Christ.
Discipleship takes consistent time with the Lord. When I fall short of true discipleship, it’s often because of my own walk with God. I’m not reading the Bible and growing in my relationship with Him, but rather checking duties off on my to-do list. I’m not spending quality time praying, but rather adding it on top of other tasks I am doing so I can be more “efficient.”
Let me encourage you if you are falling short in making disciples. You are forgiven. It’s true. Your past, present, & future sins are all nailed to the Cross (Colossians 2:13-14). There is no condemnation for you (Romans 8:1). There is no need to feel guilty or shameful, even if you have never made a single disciple. You can start now, you can start today.
If God is for you, who could be against you (Romans 8:31)? You, me, all of us, we have God! We have Him until the end of the age and forever. Since we have Him in us (Holy Spirit), He will lead us as the disciples that we are, in our new identity.
So where are you in this? What roles has God placed you in for discipleship? Pray and ask God to show you where to start. Share with us your stories of discipleship by commenting below.
Since we have been commissioned already by Jesus Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth, let’s stand up, hold our heads high, and get in on making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all that He has commanded us in Scripture, and remember, He is with us always, all the way to the end.