At the risk of offending a lot of people, I have to say that I am sick of ‘mature’ Christians who are only concerned with their own salvation and spiritual comforts. Before I go any further, I need to confess that I am speaking to myself here as well. It just seems to me that I am very lax in the command Jesus gave, “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” (Matthew 28:20) Most of us Christians tend to take this as a suggestion. But Jesus didn’t preface this command (and it is a command) with if you feel like it or if it’s convenient or if you are having a good day or if you have all your stuff together. He simply said go and make disciples.
I don’t know about you but I can come up with a million excuses for why I don’t have to go and make. I have two small children and and a husband so I’m busy with my family. When I was working full time I used the excuse that I worked full-time and needed to spend my free time with my family, or working around the house, or any other number of things. Here’s one that really hurts… I’m already doing a lot at church. Ouch. Yes, church-work can be a bad excuse and one that I also confess I have used.
Excuse-makers to Disciple-makers
How do we go from being excuse-makers to disciple-makers? I think the answer is easy- we must put God’s priorities ahead of our own. Putting that into practice is difficult though. First, we must want to know what God’s priorities are and discover them. This takes work, and we tend to shy away from stuff that takes work especially if it’s not something we have not 100% bought into. We might make a good start of it but the our effort peters out as our interest wanes or other things come up. Second, we must believe that God’s priorities are more important than our own. Believing this is more than just saying God’s priorities are important just because it’s the right answer. A great plague of Christians is their ability to give the right answers and confusing that with doing God’s will. Third, we must actively pursue God’s priorities God’s way. We are creatures that like to put ourselves and our priorities first no matter how altruistic we may like to think ourselves to be. Therefore, even if we desire to do God’s will, we will tend to put our own spin on it and dumb it down. God can and will do amazing things through us if we get ourselves and our agendas out of the way. It also boils down to this principle I heard in church: If you truly believe that God is who he says he is and did what he says he did, then you will live your life dramatically different than you ever did before. It’s the transforming power of Jesus and you will want to share that transformation with others because it made such a positive difference in your life that you want others to experience the same. If you are not living that way I would suggest you don’t really know Jesus the way he intended for us to know him. No, I’m not saying that you are not a Christian. I am saying you are a Christian that has forgotten your purpose or never discovered it in the first place. Those are harsh words but remember, I am speaking to myself as well. I am not idly putting down others while building myself up or at the very least pretending I don’t have problems.
The excuse-ridden Christian is a cancer-ridden Christian and I don’t use that term lightly. Excuses can gradually or quickly overtake our intentions if our intentions don’t become actions. I heard a story that goes like this: two frogs sat on a lily pad. One decided to jump off. How many frogs remained on the lily pad? The answer is two. Just because the frog decided to jump doesn’t mean he actually jumped. I decide to do lots of things and then never follow through on them. The adage, “actions speak louder than words” really speaks volumes here. Remember Jesus didn’t say decide to go and make disciples or think about doing it. He used action words! Here is an aside for the Christian Church as a whole. In my humble opinion, way too many Christians think that this “go and make” principle is the Church’s job. Or they think that non-Christians will just come to church on their own. Wake up! Jesus didn’t say, “Wait for the people to come and then make disciples.” HE SAID GO! I know I keep repeating myself but it is an important principle. He said go, go, GO!
Here’s another excuse I have used myself, and the more I think about the obvious command Jesus gave, the more ashamed I am I thought this way. “I don’t know any non-Christians.” GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GO! Go find some. They are all around us, our co-workers, our family members, our neighbors, our doctors, our dentists, the mail lady, the Starbucks barista. Just get up and GO!
Disciple-makers Are Relational Missionaries
You don’t need to be a preacher or a crazy religious zealot to be a disciple-maker. You don’t need to go to a third world country. You don’t even need to leave your city. You do need to be a friend. A lot of the time this is very uncomfortable. Period. It can be a messy business getting to know someone. Especially if you get to the point where you go beyond the small talk of life and really get to know a person. But do you want to know why disciple-makers should be relational? Because that’s the model that Jesus set for us. He was constantly going and I’m not talking about to the bathroom or to the synagogue. He was going to the people: He talked with them, he ate with them, he visited their homes, he prayed for them, he mourned for them, he celebrated with them, he loved them, he died for them. I know what some of you are saying… “I’m not a people person.” Some of you are called to go to the masses and some of you are called to go to only a few. But we are all called to GO. And if you truly buy into the idea that we must actively pursue God’s priorities God’s way and get ourselves out of God’s way, then you may find that God will transform your heart about this subject. If you really want to see what God can do, ask him to send you. Don’t put any exclusions or conditions on the end of it. Just ask him to send you and see what God does, see who God leads you to, see how God uses you. Is it uncomfortable at times? Yes, but so was hanging on that cross… When you put it in that perspective, God asking us to Go doesn’t seem so bad does it.