Commissioned: Disciples

My boys recently asked me to make one of their favorite recipes… Cranberry Apple Crumb Pie. It continues to be a huge crowd-pleaser, with just the perfect ratio of sweet to tart. However, if I decided to replace the apples with, say, peaches, it wouldn’t actually be an apple pie, would it? Whether it turned out good or not wouldn’t be the point. It simply wouldn’t be what my boys had asked me to make.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples…. Matthew 28:18-19

Sometimes when believers try to carry out Christ’s final instructions given in the Great Commission, they often end up not achieving the desired outcome due to a critical substitution error. In place of presenting disciples, we serve up converts instead. Converts are necessary, but they are not what Jesus commissioned us to make. Of course, people need to understand the basic message of the Gospel, but once they get to the point where they “confess with their mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in their heart God raised Him from the dead” (Rom 10:9-10), the job is not done. It’s then that we need to roll up our sleeves and really get ready for some work.

Parents and child care workers can understand this process very well. No infant could survive very long on their own… even months or years after birth. A child needs constant loving, patient care and nutrition as he or she slowly grows, develops and matures. In the same way, it would be foolish for us to expect spiritual newborns to navigate the dangers of this world without patient interaction and wise guidance.

Discipleship can be a messy and sometimes lengthy process where the ‘disciplers’ need to be ready to endure with, pray for, walk along with, train, and be companions to new believers as God fashions the image of His Son within them. And yes, it’s hard… frustrating … slow … and sometimes very difficult.  It’s also very rewarding when we are blessed to see them develop their own personal relationship with Jesus where they can, in turn, help birth, instruct and encourage other believers in their new found faith.

So, as we work at preparing what was requested by Jesus, let’s resist the temptation to take shortcuts or substitute ingredients for the sake of convenience or expediency. After all, He is the Master Chef, who knows how to best season a life so that through us, others can “taste the kindness of the Lord.”  (1 Pet. 2:3)

14 thoughts on “Commissioned: Disciples

  1. This hits home for me because about two years ago one of my best friends became a Christian. “Converting” her was so easy. I just told her about my church, how much I love it, and said she was welcome anytime. Good did the rest.
    She texted me late one Saturday and said she would meet me there the next morning. Then, the pastor’s message ended with a call to give your life to Jesus. What are the odds?
    The hard work began after that day. Teaching her, encouraging her, praying for her, answering questions. You are so right when you say it is not just about getting converts, it is about making disciples.
    Thank you for the encouragement!
    Callie

  2. Oh, how I love this.

    When I turned my life over to Christ I struggled. I felt isolated in my faith (my husband isn’t a believer yet) and I had troubles with connecting with others at church.

    I threw myself into Bible studies, women’s conference, etc. just so I could make connections. We need that kinship with fellow believers… it’s essential.

    Thanks for sharing this important reminder (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

  3. Great analogy and great reminder!
    I think discipleship is overlooked far too often. We need to go against our culture’s tendency to say “it’s none of your business” and be open to walking the path of our faith together.

  4. So true. We as the church (both as individuals and corporately) have not had a focus on maturity for a long time. I think often we get this mixed up (wrongly) with good works – and we avoid that like the plague. Good works though are a part of maturity – living out our faith. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  5. I’ve learned the hard way NOT to substitute ingredients! And yes, discipleship does take time. I’ve been an online missionary with Global Media Outreach for years and have been discipling some of the same precious Christ followers for 3-4 years. They grow, but often stumble before they grow some more.

  6. You have touched on one of my soapbox issues, Karen. Mentoring and discipling new believers is critical. We see so many come into the church, make a decision for Christ, and then drift out because no one takes the new believer under their wing. That’s the fault of mature Christians.

    Unfortunately, many new Christians don’t want to invest the time to be discipled. When I’ve suggested to new believers that we study together, they usually say they don’t have the time. One young girl and I met for a few years on Saturday mornings at 7 am. We were back home before the rest of the family was awake. Not only did we study and talk about the Lord, we developed a deep friendship.

    The least we should do is to ensure that new believers – and all members, really – get plugged into a Sunday-morning class where they can learn more of God’s Word.

    Off my soapbox, now. Thanks for a great post!

  7. Very interesting. I have not thought of it this way. That is why we need Christian friends so much as well – to hold each other accountable and to encourage each other to grow in our faith everyday! Stopping by from Women with Intention. It’s kind of funny because the post I linked up is about “making disciples of all nations” too 🙂 -Jess, Sweet Little Ones

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