Recently, I was in a conversation with someone and we were talking about discipleship. Who’s job is it? Does it fall to the leader of a church, or will we all be held accountable for the work we have been asked to do?
Notice in Ephesians chapter 4, a letter written to the church of Ephesus, that there are numerous people involved in this great work of equipping the church toward spiritual maturity: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Also think of Jesus’ words at the end of the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 28, “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.”
Here the command to make disciples is not to be a responsibility alone for the Apostles, it is a privilege and responsibility for every single Christ follower. Paul writes to Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Tim 2:2
Discipleship is not a program or method for church growth. Discipleship is teaching others to follow Jesus and His ways. It involves relationship. Up close and personal passing on of the faith, one person to another.
So what is going to motivate us to makes disciples for Jesus’ sake? I believe it will be the following three things:
1) Although discipleship is every man’s job, the challenge from church leadership (and their example) is important.
2) A vision for how awesome our God is. In two of the letters in the Bible (Ephesians and Colossians) where the teaching and passion behind making disciples and equipping others for spiritual growth (Eph.4:11-13, Col. 1:28-29) is so clear, there contains also some of the most magnificent and superlative thoughts about Jesus Christ in both of the first chapters.
As we envision our awesome God, I believe, our response will be an overflow of action. The problems we experience throughout life will be used to offer hope to others experiencing similar difficulties. The confidence we have in God will lead us and others to the expectation that God can and will act on our behalf—this will be a time of excitement because with increased faith we will give God more and more opportunity to work in and through us.
3) Love for others. The closer we get to God, the more overwhelmed we are in regards to His love for us. We will recognize that we are undeserving of such kindness and mercy from Him. As we experience His touch of grace in our lives, it will then carry over to wanting to see His love touch the hearts and minds of others. We cannot manufacture God’s love, it must flow from Him through us to others.
What is so amazing about a proper view of discipleship is that we see how incredible it is that God allows us to be used by Him to help others experience, as we have, the goodness and power of our God. What a privilege!
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