I’m not going to enjoy writing this blog any more than I enjoyed the mirror in the last one.
It’s a principle as old as creation. Like produces like. Each seed produces after its kind. Each set of creatures produce after their kind. Like produces like. We reproduce ourselves.
When we make disciples we reproduce ourselves.
If we believe a disciple needs to know certain things, we make sure they know those things. They tend to adopt our point of view, our attitudes and our approaches. Like produces like.
If we have a ritualistic approach to our Christianity and if we make a disciple, they will be ritualistic. They will do certain things at certain times in certain ways to make certain they have God’s blessing. Like produces like.
If we believe a disciple practices certain behaviors, and we practice those behaviors, then we will reproduce disciples who practice those practices. More truth is caught than taught. Like produces like.
If we believe a good Christian or a good church member has certain behaviors or practices then we will teach and reinforce those behaviors and practices. We will praise and reward people when they are doing what we think or want them to do. We will see them as becoming devoted followers of Jesus. Like produces like.
I had the privilege of working twenty years with the wonderful people in Nacogdoches County, Texas. We produced many disciples together who had a high regard for the Bible, a love of family, faithfulness to our church, a readiness to follow leadership and a love for America. They and their offspring are in leadership and on mission across the county and around the world. They have and are making a difference. I thank God for them.
Is this the same thing as being fully devoted to Jesus Christ? Maybe…maybe not.
My wife Dee describes herself as being in love with the idea of “serving Jesus” not necessarily loving Jesus. We do things for him but not necessarily with him or by him. We decide what we think Jesus wants (or we’re told by others what he wants) and we go out to accomplish it. We may be devoted to our family, our church and our country without necessarily being devoted to the person Jesus. We serve an idea, a teaching with our spin on it, or an organization with little thought or relationship with Jesus. Is this Biblical discipleship?
Jesus rebuked the religious people of his day because they searched the scriptures daily, knew them backwards and forwards, and missed the main subject, Jesus. They were faithful to their synagogues and all of the rituals surrounding the Sabbath but were not following the Lord of the Sabbath. They were, as far as outward morality, outstanding! But Jesus describes them as white washed vessels full of dead men’s bones.
I do not mean any of this as a condemnation but only as a cautionary note.
We must not be people who have a “form of godliness but deny the power thereof”. We must not pretend to have the Glory when the Glory has departed. We must go only if He goes with us.
“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
We are called to follow Jesus in the same way he followed the Father. We are to depend on Jesus as he depended on the Father. We are to say what Jesus says as he said only what he heard the Father saying. We are to do what Jesus is doing as he always did what he saw the Father doing. We live by the indwelling life of Jesus.
What if we think of Jesus as being present with us in the person and work of the Holy Spirit? You know, as in “I’ll never leave you or forsake you” or “low I am with you always”.
What if Jesus is still the discipler?
What if we saw ourselves as being under his headship, his leadership and thus empowered by him? What if we lived in his kingdom under his rule and reign? When we meet with other believers in church, Sunday school, small groups or over a cup of coffee we acknowledge Jesus’ presence and listen for “his still small voice” in what others are sharing with us and we are sharing with them. By obeying whatever he commands us we become the “one anothers” of the New Testament. We are being the church, the body of Christ.
Saints of old described it at “practicing his presence”.
We never graduate in this life. We are always being discipled together by Jesus. We are being conformed. We are being transformed. We are becoming like him. Why? Because like produces like.