Making Disciples as Disciples (pt. 2) - The Making
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 - Matthew 28:19 (ESV) (emphasis added)
We've all, at the very least, have tried to make something. Whether it's baking cookies, or crafting wooden patio furniture, or even writing a new song, we've all made a plan and tried to execute it. Whether we got the idea from a book or from our own imagination, we've all had the desire to make something and attempted it. It may have turned out really good or gone horribly wrong. At the very least we can all (hopefully) learn from mistakes and grow from them.
But it's different when Jesus tells us to go and "make" disciples. What does Jesus mean when He commands (... and yes, it is a command) us to "make disciples?" What about this command should we be concerned about and how must we approach it?
The danger in making disciples is treating the process like a project. While I acknowledge there is a process to making disciples (... it's called sanctification ...), we're talking about people -- people who have a God given need for relationship and community. If the person we are seeking to make a disciple feels like a project and not a person, they will stop hearing what you are trying to communicate. Why? Because there is no relationship behind it. Even if they can't put it into words, the "project person" will feel like a project. Once they're converted, they’ll perceive that your responsibility to them has ended and, therefore, so has the relationship. It's easy for them to see the "work" being done, and come to this false conclusion (... or is it a false conclusion?)
With a project, there is a definite beginning and end; there's a sense of completion. Not so with a person. There are always ways a person can grow and learn, always areas where they can go deeper. There's never a time, this side of heaven, when a person is done or complete.
The way to avoid this danger is to start with the relationship. Build it first and then wait for the Lord to open opportunities to share Him with the other person. This will take time (just like anything worth doing, and worth doing well). This leads us into our other point, what we need to remember.
In our desire to make disciples, we need to remember that this is ultimately God's sovereign work. Only He has the power and authority to take someone from spiritual death to spiritual life (Eph. 2:1-10). We need to remember this is His work, done in His perfect timing. We can neither rush it or force it, it's completely up to Him.
But that doesn't mean we don't have work to do. Remember this is still a command that Jesus gave us. He expects us all to be doing this. It's the way we do it that should be considered. If it's His work, what part do we play? We remain faithful. Faithful to the message of the gospel. Faithful to do what He calls us to do; ready at anytime to share (2 Tim: 4:1-5; 1 Peter 3:13-17). It is our job to be ready, whenever the opportunity presents itself, to share who Christ is, what He has done, and why someone (everyone) needs Him.
This is, at least in part, what the danger is and what we need to remember when it comes to fulfilling the command of the Great Commission. But in order to do this most effectively, certain characteristics must be true of us as disciples. The next post in this series looks specifically at the person who wishes to disciple.