Our call to make disciples is not enigmatically embedded in the Bible. There’s no secret code to decipher. Jesus was straightforward about it:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19, ESV)
However, disciple-making doesn’t just pop up spontaneously… kind of like how you don’t see a house framed in first, then the foundation.
Someone needs to "go” first…
People who do not know the Lord are not innately predisposed to seek him. People who do know the Lord experience a paradigm shift in how they think: The world is not here to serve us... we are here to serve the world. That means we go first. But let’s be clear: Going to people already congregating elsewhere is not the going Jesus mandated. We should go like the Apostle Paul did…
I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation. (Romans 15:20, ESV)
Someone needs to go where it’s really hard to go…
…to people who know little or care nothing about our conception of God or our devotion to his words. For people like this, it’s harder to begin by talking about God or the Bible. Lifestyle and a long term commitment to selfless love of neighbor will help pave the way for building relationships and drawing people to our message.
…to people who know about Jesus but choose not to follow him. Some mistake the way of Jesus as yet another compliance-based religion. Others have been misled and abused by people claiming to represent God. Their expectations have been trashed in the worst way.
We should go because we should. But oddly, the last thing we can do is make anybody follow Jesus. We will need more than we can give. Disciple-making will be the hardest thing we do… before it becomes the easiest thing we do.
Amy Carmichael’s poem, “Fire-Words” begins with, “O God, my words are cold.” Then the response comes to her…
Thou shalt have words
But at this cost, that thou must first be burnt…
Not otherwise, and by no lighter touch,
Are fire-words wrought.
My failures in disciple-making have been less about a lack of knowledge… and more about my lack of brokenness. True brokenness is still out there on the horizon for me. Pulpiteering has not helped me with this… getting close and personal with people has.
Sometimes sobremesa (table-talk) turns into an internal wrestling match… “go, Greg… wade into it now… here’s the window you’ve been waiting for… do it now!”
Invariably, lightness and freedom follow on the heels of true brokenness. Speaking the Gospel is never in vain.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV)
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