Have We Complicated Discipleship?
Simon, Andrew, James and John were among the first men Jesus called to follow Him and to be His disciples. Simon and Andrew were fishermen by trade, and might have known Jesus before their encounter by the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus called them to be fishers of men, they immediately left their business and accepted His call.
James and John were in their boat with their father mending their nets, and they immediately left their boat and father to follow Christ (Matt 4:18-22). Matthew 4:19 states, “Follow Me, and I will make you fish for people!” By just one command, Jesus got a few men who had dedicated their life to fishing for fish, to fish for men.
Much like the nets that the early disciples used in their trade as fishermen, we are to be woven with one another in love and fellowship in order to make disciples.
These four men went from using woven nets to gather fish, to using the gospel to reel in believers to follow Christ.
Why Make Disciples?
Jesus used some of His last words on earth to charge us to make disciples in the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). Why is making disciples so important to Him? Why did He use some of His last words to commission His followers to do that very thing?
When Jesus was asked what is the great commandment of the law, He responded with two things: Love God and love your neighbor (Matt 22:36-40).
When we love God, we are His disciples. When we love others, we make disciples.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we, as followers of Jesus, begin to love as Christ has loved us, people will know that we are His disciples. Through this love we have for one another, others will want to know the source of this love, which is Jesus. Therefore, a failure to love is a failure to proclaim the gospel.
How are you loving those around you? How are you loving those whom are hard to love?
Blueprint for Making Disciples
There are too many books, articles, studies, and sermons to count on the topic of discipleship. So, which resource is better than the others? I think Jesus did a pretty good job not only modeling discipleship before us, but also creating a blueprint for us to follow.
Just like an architect or contractor follows a blueprint for constructing a home, Scripture gives us a blueprint on how to make disciples.
There was something so simple and easy about how Jesus made disciples. However, I think over the years we have compounded disciple making and made it more complicated than it really is. Jesus’ ministry was simple – He gathered a bunch of men and simply hung out with them.
In Matthew 28:18-20, we receive our charge: “Then Jesus came near and said to them, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We all know this passage of Scripture, don’t we? We have quoted it so many times that it easily rolls off our tongues without even thinking about it.
But, how? How do we practically make this charge a part of our daily lives? How do we use Jesus as our example? How do we make disciples?
When speaking about the early church, Acts 2:42; 46 states: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude.”
The blueprint for making disciples is simple: Teach the Word, love, eat, and pray.
“…devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching”
I recently experienced how ministry can be simple yet effective, through a new ministry our church just launched. The 100-year-old church that my husband pastors launched a Satellite Campus about 20 minutes away at the beginning of February. There are no large programs or fancy lights. People are simply gathering together in a Martial Arts gym and hearing a Word from the Lord. Is a barrier to you making disciples as simple as not knowing what to say? Sister, open up your Bible and get on your knees. Devote yourself to simply walking through a book of the Bible with a friend.
“…to the fellowship”
All believers were together and held all things in common. Unity was a distinguishing mark of the Early Church. It is easy to get out of the habit, isn’t it? Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to neglect the gathering and assembling together. It becomes very difficult to encourage, pray, and make a disciple if you are not meeting with them face-to-face in their everyday lives. Henry Blackaby once said, “Find out where God is moving and join Him there.”
“…to the breaking of bread”
I don’t know about you, but I like how Jesus included this in His blueprint. My inner homemaker and hostess in me likes to blow this one out of proportion. When we are having guests over or when I am meeting with a woman, I like to include “extras” on the menu such as appetizers, fancy bottled sodas, and a dessert bar. However, some of my favorite gatherings and teaching moments have been around pizza boxes or coffee. Focus on the ministry of making disciples, not the menu.
“…to the prayers”
Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without praying is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Praying should be like breathing in oxygen for our spiritual lungs. Devote yourself to praying with another woman and fighting for her marriage, the salvation of a loved one, or the reconciliation with a prodigal son. We need to be a generation of women who are known for getting on our knees praying, more than we are on social media.
You might be thinking: Whom should I disciple? What should I talk about? How do I find enough time in my schedule for this? Sometimes, God places the answers to these questions right before our eyes. Find a woman to disciple buried in the trenches of life, hiding on the back pew of your church, or simply right before your eyes. Let’s turn local coffee shops, living rooms, and dining room tables into places where disciple making happens. Be encouraged by Jesus’ last words in the Great Commission: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). Take courage, for He is with you as you go and make disciples.