Many churches and Christians believe the job of a follower of Jesus is to make disciples.
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 are with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NASB
Jesus instructs us with some of his last words on earth to go and make disciples. What is a disciple? And how do we make one?
Following Jesus isn’t our nature. Our nature is to follow anyone or anything but Jesus. Most of us follow ourselves. We develop our own opinions about how the world works, and we live aligned with our own beliefs. Our choices expose our beliefs. We might say we believe in Jesus, but if we never do what he says, we must believe in a Jesus of our own making.
Our choices expose our beliefs. Tweet This
And if we do not follow the real Jesus, we won’t need words like disciple to explain life as a Jesus follower. The word falls out of use and, as people fail to remember the true meaning, they adopt their own. Over time we get our own shared, group-think meaning. Today I would guess that most people believe a disciple is someone who spends most of their time at church listening to a preacher or reading and memorizing the bible.
But a disciple is a learner. Today, we would call a disciple an apprentice. We still make disciples by baptizing people and teaching them to observe all Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20 above). But that isn’t the whole process. Times and people change. Teaching has changed. In Jesus day, a teacher was someone who had students. The students or disciples, spent their lives with the teacher, often for years at a time, learning everything he did. They’d see him with his family and in his studies and at his workplace.
More recently, during our industrial revolution, people left work to go to hear a preacher like Billy Graham either in person or over the radio or TV. We even used to dress up in our best clothes to go. Today, things are more casual. I’ve heard of churches with sofa’s and comfortable furniture so people can relax.
Today, many learn by searching the Internet. Data and information are plentiful, but experience and wisdom must be grown. We check Google before asking others. So,if we have to ask someone or go to church, we admit we don’t know. We want to be more sophisticated. We want to decide things for ourselves in our own time and without anyone knowing we questioned. We want to have known all along. If we question our own beliefs, we admit our ignorance. Some people won’t ask about Jesus because they don’t want others to know they don’t know.
Therefore, today, we’re less likely to make disciples by standing up and teaching them. People must choose to become a disciple. Disciples follow to learn. To be a disciple of someone means you spend time with them and learn from them. The disciple brings the energy, and bends their life to be with the teacher, learning all they can.
The book, I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp explains the process most postmodern people go through before they bend their life to follow Jesus. Step one is not “Go to church” or “Be baptized.” The first step begins with trusting another person who happens to follow Jesus.
Jesus ministered to people. To minister to someone means to serve them for their benefit. Even when we fail to understand our own best interests, Jesus works in our best interests. (See Romans 5:8) We make disciples by living a disciple’s life, learning from Jesus, doing what he does. We believe following Jesus is everyone’s best interest. And Jesus came not to be served, but to serve or minister (Mark 10:45).
Our life should cause others to choose to follow Jesus. How can we live so others will choose Jesus? Today, I will ask God to show me how to serve him full-time and make him known. Will you? I will probably need to give away some time, attention or money without regard to any return. What will God ask you to do? He is actively working in your life and in the life of everyone around you. Look for how God is working and join him.
Note: There is more to making disciples, but the first step is transparently following Jesus. Let’s follow and serve him today and make him known. That’s the mission of Follower of One. Join us?
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