Monday, October 29, 2012

Are we obeying Jesus's last command?

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen  Matthew 28:18-20  NKJ

This was Jesus's last command before he left Earth. I'm thinking that it must be pretty important. 

But what is a disciple? 

Disciples in Jesus’s day would follow their rabbi (which means teacher) wherever he went, learning from the rabbi’s teaching and being trained to do as the rabbi did. It was a very personal relationship in which they shared their lives intimately. The disciple would ask questions, listen, learn, and mimic what the rabbi did. The rabbi, in turn, would teach, instruct, encourage, rebuke, and provide a Godly example. 

What does a disciple-rabbi relationship look like today? Obviously we can't follow someone around and live and eat with them. However I think this type of mentoring relationship could exist in a close friendship between a new Christian and a mature Chrisitian wherein the mature Christian would take the new believer under his wing and teach, instruct, rebuke, encourage, and provide a Godly example. This mature Christian or Christians would be a person (or maybe a group of people) the new believer could come to with questions, struggles, problems. Someone who would pray for and with him or her, someone who would guide them in understanding the Scriptures and point them to Jesus. 

Is that what happened to you when you became a Christian? It didn't happen to me. Nor has it happened to anyone else I know. If you came to Christ as a young person, you may have been fortunate enough to have had family to instruct and help you....or perhaps a great youth pastor or Sunday School teacher who was there for you.  But let's face it, when most people head up to the altar to give their lives to Christ, we make them repeat a prayer, hand them a Bible, and tell them to come back next Sunday. We give them no further instruction except for weekly sermons and prehaps a new believers class if they want to attend. They receive no personal encouragement unless they have Christian friends, no help unless they want to make an appointment with their busy pastor. No wonder so many new Christians quickly fall away.

I don't believe this is what Jesus was talking about. He didn't say "Go and make converts" He said "Go and make disciples."   Think of how much easier your Christian walk would have been and how much farther along you'd be now if you'd had a strong mature Christian who took you under his or her wing and was there for you 24-7.  When you had doubts, fears, when you were tempted, struggled. When tragedy struck, all you had to do was pick up the phone and this person was there to encourage and pray and show you what the Scripture said about your situation!  I would have loved that!  

When the early church began, Christians met in homes and conducted church in homes. Everyone knew each other and shared life together. The more mature followers helped the new ones... and whenever someone had a problem or question, there was always a friend to go to for help. These early Christians grew so fast and so strong in their faith that many of them were willing to be tortured and die for what they believed. I wonder how many people filling our modern churches would do that?

So, are we making disciples in our churches today?  I would say for the most part No. 

Why do I tell you this? Because I'm hoping we can start to make small changes in the right direction. One of these promising changes I see in today's churches are the addition of small groupsAt least in a small home group setting people can get personal attention and have their questions answered. Of course that depends on who is leading these groups and how committed they are into getting involved in people's lives. Then of course, we have to get people to join these groups. But at least this is a step in the right direction.  

I'm sure we all know people who are not as strong in their faith as we are. And I'm also sure we know people who are stronger. Perhaps we should pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into befriending a Christian who may need help and prayer now and then and likewise befriending someone else who can help us when we need it. God is a relational God. He loves close relationships, and He wants His children to be close and to lean and depend on each other.  When that happens, the church operates like a well-oiled machine, or, to use the Apostle Paul's description, like a body where each part operates to its fullest.  When people are growing in their walk and helping others grow, the church explodes in power, in love, and in the glory of God!

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 NKJ



  1. Mon Oct 29th ....
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Well, I can certainly relate to today's message. Becoming a born-again Christian as a youngster, I was extremely inmature, and had no mentor. Then, as the teen years rolled around and early 20's, I was rebellious, doing "my own thing" (being a Frank Sinatra "I-did-it-my-way" kind of person), and turned my back on God for several years. No, I did not stop believing in Him or anything like that ... but I was definitely not living for Him ! It wasn't until I got married, and we were "invited" to attend a "born -again, believing-teaching-preaching the Bible-kind-of-Church" ... that we were able to get into small Bible study groups ... and grow and mature. Basically as you said, "someone" taking us under their mature-Christian-wings, so to speak.
    No, I'm not surprised at all, that today, so many walk/turn away after becoming "new" baby Christians .... because they are being left to their own ways and not being "fed/nurtured/encouraged".
    I sure hope people/friends know they can come to me; and I sure know 'who' I can go to when I need wise counsel and a listening set of ears. We really do 'need' each other ... we were never meant to be 'islands' !
    Thanks for another timely word, MaryLu.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Absolutely, Brenda! I did the same thing.. got saved and the had no one to teach me or show me what to do.. so I wandered away. I'm praying the church addresses this in some way soon or like I said, we take it upon ourselves to help each other. Maybe we'll be forced to when things get really rough in the world.

  3. I love that passage of the Bible, because it truly is such a simple command. So many churches seem to think that in order to reach people, they need to do all this gimmicky stuff to get entertain us, keep our attention, or even just to get us through the door. But in Bible we learn, that no one will come to Him unless He draws them (John 6:44) and we also learn that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). We can’t improve upon it, and yet we try. And then we end up with a church full of false converts, and those true converts who are thirsty for spiritual things. Churches need to just preach the pure gospel of Christ crucified for the sins of the world. Then we need to follow through on passages such as Matthew 28:18-20! The church needs to get back to being a community, instead of a bunch of warm bodies who go to church on Sundays. Oh, how we like to make things far for difficult than they need be! Sorry for the long winded post, but I am very passionate about this subject!

  4. MaryLu,
    This is an interesting topic you chose to write on. I as a Pastor's wife and one of those you have to, "make an appointment with," couldn't agree with you more on what you had to say. Sadly today to many churches fail to follow-up with new converts and instead just put another check on the big board of, "what our church accomplished this year." God forbid we ever become a church that operates like that. I as a pastors wife am willing to put much of the responsibility on the shoulders of my fellow pastors or shepherds of their flocks. If we aren't doing our job right and providing important training to raise up and develop other leaders that help fill in the gap of those in need of continued counseling, prayer and encouragement we fail to truly reach out effectively. We can't do it by ourselves and failing to see the potential in those in the church and helping them see their potential is horrible. I pray that pastors would begin to invest more time in the people around them and start thinking along the lines of working as a team (as the disciples did) instead of a hierarchy. We need to respond to the calling and reach up, reach in, reach out, raise up and go out as a team.

    God bless,
    Kristie Truett

  5. Emma, I'm glad you're passionate about this subject! So am I! We need more people to be passionate about making disciples. I couldn't agree more.. church needs to be community, not a spectator sport!

    Kristie, I'm glad you weren't offended at my post. I meant no offense to pastors or elders. Honestly I can't imagine how just a few people can keep up with the needs of an entire church!! No wonder so many pastors burn out and quit! We are ALL the church and God has gifted us all with wonderful gifts to help each other.. yet so many of those gifts are never used as we sit in pews. I'm so encouraged by your post...thank you. I love your Reach up, reach in, reach out and raise up!!

  6. No offense taken at all!! I always try to be open to the fact that if it offends me then maybe I needed to hear it. I'd rather be offended than remain a stagnant smelly pool in the eyes of my creator. I'm thankful for people like you that are willing to stand up, say what needs to be said and get movin!! Hope you have a blessed day!!