And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the 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 ESV
Any of you who know me are not surprised that I am writing about “discipleship”… This is my favorite subject, not because it is necessarily exciting, fun or even popular – although it is very exciting (there is nothing more enjoyable than watching an individual get fired-up for the things of the Kingdom) and it is filled with very and challenging season’s & events! Yet, it is one of the most controversial and un-popular subjects of modern day Christendom. I personally believe it is the lack of solid Biblical and Holy Spirit led discipleship that keeps Western Christianity weak in influence.
The root of discipleship is not contrived in the mind of man…quite the contrary; it is at the heart of God’s plan for you and me! God wants us to be shaped and molded into the image of His Son, Jesus and He has provided the vehicle for the Godly development of our character in discipleship. We don’t “accidentally” become Christ-like in our behavior - we must be intentional in shaping our life-pattern to that of Christ’s and only through Biblical discipleship can this happen.
Today, I read a great quote by Dallas Willard; he was speaking to fact that the lack of discipleship within the Church today is the proverbial “elephant the room”. He says that we need to “…make disciples and let converts happen instead of intending to make converts and let disciples happen…”. Converts are not God’s ultimate plan for man, yes one must be converted in order to become a disciple but making disciples is the call upon the Church.
Being a disciple requires a life-long commitment to Jesus, to the things of God and to the body of Christ (The Church). It is impossible for a true disciple of Christ to say, with any sincerity of heart, that he is committed to Christ if he does not care to grow in the knowledge of God. A true disciple of Christ also carries the burden of His Lord—multiplication through active discipleship. It’s interesting to note the definition of the little 2 letter word “go”. Go means to be habitually in a certain state or condition of action. In the context of Matthew 28:19 it also means to be aggressive in the process of making disciples (not like the cults with their overzealous annoyance’s) but to be aggressively about the King’s agenda of making of disciples.
We don’t become a disciple of Jesus solely through conversion. With Jesus’ words “Make disciples” we see that a disciple is made not birthed; one is “re-born” through converting from a life contrary to God then invited to become a disciple of Jesus through interaction with Him via other disciples. Again, with Jesus’ words “…teaching them…” it is clear that discipleship is a life-long process in which each believer is transformed into the likeness of his Master, Christ. This then should be the Christians motto, ‘Those who don’t know…must be taught—those who do know…must be teachers!’
More quotes on Discipleship:
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
How disabled the body of Christ has become because our primary purpose for church attendance has been to hear one man exercise his gifts, rather than to prepare people to develop their gifts for ministry, not only within the church but within society. David R. Mains
No one can sum up all God is able to accomplish through one solitary life, wholly yielded, adjusted and obedient to Him. D.L. Moody
Christianity must evoke from the believer the same response it drew from the first disciples: a passionate desire to obey God - a willingly entered-into discipline. That is the beginning of true discipleship. That is the beginning of loving God. Randy Peck
Life is a pilgrimage of learning, a voyage of discovery in which our mistaken views are corrected, our distorted notions adjusted, our shallow opinions deepened and some of our vast ignorance diminished. John Stott
You have but one Pattern; follow Him inwardly and outwardly. If other believers will go step for step with you, well; but if not, follow Him! John Wesley