A couple of mornings ago I was awaken by reoccurring thoughts. This is not my usual means of waking. I strongly suspect that these thoughts were from the Lord. First was the thought that God has a very strong desire for believers to become disciples. While we sometimes prefer not to make a defined distinction between believers and disciples, Jesus was not so timid.
Mark 8:34 (NASB95)
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
I was subtly under the assumption that the great commission was for the expansion of God’s kingdom therefore God’s desire for disciples would primarily benefit His kingdom expansion. While there is no doubt more than a shred of truth embodied in this assumption one thought that awoke me, a thing I apparently needed to understand;becoming a dedicated disciple is the most rewarding place possible in God’s kingdom. All the accruing advantages of discipleship survive for all eternity. Jesus’ disciples were in the know. They followed Jesus and came to know His voice. They have been promised to rule with Him in His heavenly kingdom. They enjoy an indescribably intimate relationship with God! In Jesus’ day there was no better position in the Kingdom than to be Jesus’ chosen disciple. Today there is no more eternally preferred position in the realm of God than to be seen from heaven as a determined dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ!
Mark 4:33-34 (NASB95)
33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it; 34and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.
Yes, Jesus was very clear; there is a price connected with discipleship. But in our modern fast pace Christianity we seem to seek bargain basement spirituality. We tend to want to pay the least possible and are often willing to accept minuscule spirituality if it can be obtained for a petite and paltry payment. It is as if all our spiritual shopping must be done at the Dollar Store since we are afraid to pay more. But these pitiable perceptions do not come from a proper understanding of our God.
God does not want us to choose to become a disciple so that He can punish us and make us give up all things good. In truth it is exactly the opposite. Our God is a giving and gracious God who desires that we become a disciple in order to be competent to receive the eternal wealth of His most magnificent blessings. But we are subtly and stubbornly in love with this world. Our world love is clearly revealed by how we spend our time and our money. The pursuit of the things of this world will not bring us joy or peace, but more likely some pain and considerable maintenance.
This world has given the word discipline a strongly negative connotation. Deep in our hearts we do not desire discipline. It is too confining. We rather want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. This is our erroneous understanding of freedom. Even though we are commanded to be disciples and to make disciples, we often believe that the level of commitment demanded for discipleship is too costly and probably not worth the trouble.
My second awakening thought was that to become a disciple who makes disciples is a very honored role, one of the most honored position in the kingdom of God. We tend to see Pastors who are speaking to great throngs as having a high kingdom positions. We see those who write insightful commentaries or books that are widely read as having a high positions in God’s Kingdom. These callings and ministries are without doubt seen as extremely valuable in the eyes of God. God did not place us in the role of judging the importance of different callings, but He did call every one of us to become a disciple who makes disciples. Without doubt every man or woman who consistently makes disciples who are making disciples and teaching them to obey all He has commanded will be greatly blessed.
Jesus taught us that intimate relationships with a few who would be called to pass on what they have been given is His priority in ministry. Jesus knew the power of multiplication and multiplication was His plan. He gave us the example of focus. He focused on just twelve and He further focused on only three. Like a magnifying glass focuses the rays of the sun until they are so hot they will start a fire, Jesus’ ministry with His disciples was so focused that He started a fire that continues to burn until this day. While we often seem to settle for a significant segment of smoke, Jesus is still looking for fire!
After Jesus had risen from the dead He arranged a meeting with His disciples in Galilee. Here he gave them their final instructions:
Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB95)
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
The Apostle John wrote these words of Jesus leading us to understand that He expected us to make disciples who make disciples.
John 17:18-2o (NASB95)
18 "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
19 "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
20 "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
Jesus made it clear His purpose was to:
Luke 19:10 (NASB95)
10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
As He was calling His first disciples He said:
Mark 1:17 (NASB95)
17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
God is still calling us to follow Him in order to become fishers of men. This call to become a disciple who is making disciples is a call of significant sacrifice yielding great temporal and eternal rewards. Have you heard His call?