How far will we go to be and help others become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ? Are we willing to change some of our beliefs and behaviors? Are we ready to kill some “sacred cows”? Willing to be misunderstood? Ready, if necessary, to change the way we “see” and “do” church?
To be clear, I’m not asking you to violate Scripture or disobey Jesus. I’m asking you to do the very opposite. I’m asking if what we’ve been building might be simply what we’ve built, when Jesus said He would build His Church. I’m asking if what we’re making may be a reproduction of ourselves and not a disciple to Jesus. I’m asking if we and those around us are obeying the traditions and commandments of men rather than the commands of Christ. I know these are difficult and to some repulsive questions, but I must ask.
We have to ask these kinds of questions because we want to be fully devoted to Jesus and help others trust and follow him.
In previous posts we’ve asked how to recognize a fully devoted follower of Jesus. We’ve asked why we don’t see and produce more of these disciples. We’ve discussed the possibility that we are trying to produce the wrong thing. We’ve considered the reality that “like produces like”. We’ve looked at the need for a paradigm shift. What now?
Let’s consider the structure in which we make disciples. What about our framework for making disciples? What is our model? What are our methods for making disciples? Would we change these if it meant making more fully devoted followers of Jesus?
Most of us try to make disciples with The Book and a book. We use the Bible and a discipling manual. This manual is our take on what it means to be a disciple. It’s our interpretation of the Bible through our framework of what it means to be a disciple. We take these two books and put them together with the prospective disciple. We add the discipler. The discipler meets with the prospective disciple at least once a week in a classroom, sanctuary, or one-on-one setting. They cover the material in the manual and refer back to the Bible or they cover the material in the Bible and refer back to the manual. When the disciple has finished the material in the manual and is able to repeat what he has learned, the discipler moves on to “make” more disciples…or, tells the prospective disciple to never miss a Sunday of their preaching and they will indeed be a disciple.
I don’t have to tell you Jesus used very different methods to make disciples. For one thing, he said he could “do nothing of himself”. He always depended on the Father the way Adam and Eve were meant to depend on him. He said only what he heard the Father saying. He did only what he saw the Father doing. He was a man “under authority” doing the Father’s will. He called men to leave all, everything and everybody, and follow him. These men were joined to him. They lived with him. They ate and slept together. They walked and talked together. He taught them. He revealed the Father to them. Men took note that they had been with Jesus. As he was shaped by the Father, they were being shaped like him. Their interaction with Jesus and one another on a daily basis was changing their hearts and reshaping their lives. Jesus spent three and a half years pouring the Father’s life into these men and the world hasn’t been the same since.
Jesus’ way of making disciples was very different from most of ours. This can’t be good. Someone needs to start asking questions and finding some answers.
What if we saw Jesus as the discipler? I mean our discipler. What if we were saying “yes” to follow him together with other believers? What if we were learning to listen and obey the teachings of Jesus together? (You know, like being devoted to the apostles’ teaching.) What if when we met with other believers we were all sharing what Jesus was saying, teaching and doing in our lives? Would we learn (be discipled) from what he was doing in Peter, James or John’s life? Could we hear his voice in what Ted or Cindy or Alice was sharing? Would others (all?) be able to speak truth into our lives? Could we (should we) be with believers like this on a daily basis? Would these kinds of relationships help us to become fully devoted to Jesus together? We have to ask.
To make these kinds of disciples may mean having to change our forms and structures. We may have to reassess how we “do church” in order to “become church”
Do you have any “sacred cows” you would not put to death for Jesus? How far are you willing to go?
He says, “…come follow me”.