Do you know what Jesus’s last words were to his disciples?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20
Christ ascended in 30 AD and by 49 AD the Good News had been preached to all the known world. Imagine that! It only took 19 years for the disciples to get the word out. How do you suppose they did that?
They followed Christ’s instructions to “Go and make disciples!”
Sounds like an oversimplification doesn’t it. But guess what? It worked! Well, at least it did for the disciples! But it doesn’t seem to be working quite as efficiently in our modern world.
So what’s the problem?
Let’s ask ourselves (those of us who are Christians) this question. After our decision to turn from our life without God in the center of it and turn instead to a life with God in the center, what happened next? Perhaps we started attending church regularly, joined a Sunday school class, maybe even participated in some bible studies. Next question:
Did these activities equip us to live life successfully?
Or did we find ourselves taking detours? Did we soon lose our desire to read our Bibles? Did we find ourselves succumbing to temptations? And for those of us who stayed the course, how intense was our struggle to do so? Were there times in our lives when our doubts became almost overwhelming? And, more seriously, did we reach a point where we no longer felt guilty about not living for Christ?
The Church today stresses evangelism (that’s going out and leading people to Christ). AND that’s a wonderful thing. But what about Jesus’s last words to make disciples? Ah! Herein lies the core of our problem, I think. If we evangelize but fail to make disciples, we’ve played right into Satan’s manipulative and deceptive hands. Let’s consider this final question:
Were we discipled?
In all likelihood, we were not. (I know I wasn’t) and I’ve been a Christian for 62 years!!!!! So, this may surprise my readers, but starting just last week I began attending my first discipleship class. It’s a small class, only 3 of us. I’m learning that’s plenty. Classes of this nature need to be small. For as we get trained then we will go out and find 2 or 3 to disciple. Then those will go out and find 2 or 3 to disciple. You get the picture, I’m sure. It’s called exponential growth. I do believe that was the same successful strategy the disciples used.
More on discipleship next time…