We are beginning a sermon series all about discipleship on September 11. This is a series that I am really excited about, and one that I think can help us all in how we interact with each other and those that do not have a relationship with Jesus yet. In fact, I think we all need a reminder of this from time to time, the first part of discipleship is actually sharing your faith with someone.
When we hear discipleship, our first thought is usually something about gaining deeper understanding of scripture, a better prayer life, or something along those lines. Those things are definitely a part of discipleship, and something that we should all be striving for. But we are called to make disciples. Not just help each other that are already in a relationship with Jesus be a better disciple. This is something that I am just now really starting to understand, and something that I think has the potential to change how we interact with other people that we come into contact with in the world.
Think about it. Matthew 28:18-20 states, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” We talk about this passage all the time. You know what it is usually referred to. “The Great Commission”. It is Jesus’ final command to His disciples (and us) after His resurrection before His return to Heaven.
All to often, however, I have missed the command here. We talk about “going” and “baptizing” and many other things in this passage. Or we focus on the promise at the end that Jesus will be with us always. And that is a great promise. One that we should talk about and should give us the courage to live for Him in this broken world.
We seem to miss the “make disciples” part of this though. I know I have missed it many times. But that is the central command here. Go and make disciples. Not wait for them to come to us, not just help each other grow that already know Jesus, but go and make new disciples. That can get messy though, because we are dealing with imperfect people that carry baggage of hurts and failures with them, along with our own baggage as well. It does not give us a pass, however, from not attempting to follow this command.
I saw a friend post this quote from John Ortberg earlier today, and it kind of brought all of this into perspective for me. Ortberg wrote, “The mission of the church is not to go out into the world of disgust and shape it up. It’s to go into the world with compassion and help it out.” In other words, God has extended you grace, even when you did not deserve it, and His grace is available to others that are still mixed up in the world of disgust out there. Our job is to help them find Jesus, not condemn the world for acting immoral.
Paul put it this way in his writing to the church in Corinth; “12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.’” (I Cor. 5:12-13). Our job is not to judge and look down at those outside the church. It is to try to find a way to help them become a disciple, and that is what our 4-week series starting on September 11 is going to deal with! I cannot wait. Please invite your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors…anyone who does not have a relationship with Jesus yet. Who knows, they might say yes.