Saturday, 19 January 2008
Go and Make Disciples
This article was written by Leonard Lee a church planter and a veteran of over 25 years of ministry. He currently pastors Bayside of Central Roseville and loves to hunt, fish and play.
He has much experience in evangelism and nurture and makes some insightful comments. I think it is often better to listen to men and women who have been doing the Master's business rather than 'ivory tower' theologians who spend most of their days with either Christians or other academics, having little deep relationships with people in the ‘real world’. In other words Lee’s conclusions and insights don’t just come from books but from the experience of walking with God over many years and struggling with the problems that face a Christian who desires to bring young Christians to maturity. This is not to say I never read theology, I do, probably too much, but I'm sure you know what I mean.
Here Mr Lee is very strong on the relationship of the three personalities involved: God, the evangelist (That is the older disciple, for as George Verwer says we should always wear our L plates) and the younger disciple. He also is not an authoritarian disciple maker but one who through example appears to show love, loyalty, and sacrifice; not one who demands it. Christ laid down his life for the sheep: Would be Shepherds should do the same.
Lee also emphasises friendship. I think this an important aspect for both parties. Even if the older Christian must spend less time with themas they mature ( And to enable them to work with more needy ones), the prodigy must never be seen as a mere pawn or number. The younger must also appreciate that though their mentor spends less time with them, they are still loved by them and very much in their heart. One might also consider the love Paul had for the likes of Timothy and Titus. AK
'Go make disciples… These are the marching orders of our friend, Jesus. On the surface it seems simple and sometimes when we read the accounts in the book of Acts the details of how disciples were made gets lost in the fact that people were converted. Of course Jesus makes it easy to understand, travel with 12 guys for three plus years and “viola’” you have disciples. I have been in ministry over 25 years and still struggle to make disciples, but here are a few of my random thoughts that I am trying to flesh out as I endeavor to carry out the marching orders of my friend, Jesus.
Make discipleship about becoming a friend of God rather than looking like a Christian. Near the end of Jesus ministry he pulls his guys together and says. I am not calling you servants anymore; I am calling you friends because a friend knows what their friend is up to. (this is the Leonard Lee slandered perversion) As I disciple people one of the primary truths I try to teach is what a friendship with God looks like. Here are a few of the descriptions I try to apply.
I want people to understand the size of their friend. When I was a kid I was short. I had a couple big friends. The size of my friends gave me confidence to be a bit of a daredevil smarty pants. I could muster up courage to say things I might not have were it not for the size of my friends riding backup. One reason for boldness is the size of our friend. God is immeasurable and honestly, that is cool. When faced with a tough conversation or decision I will often think, “Do you know how big my friend is? He can do anything!”
I want people to understand loyalty. Loyalty is the quality in a friendship that allows us to not understand and still remain close friends. I have to admit, sometimes it is loyalty in my friendship with Christ that holds me until the fog can clear.
I want people to understand gratefulness. When gratefulness is in a friendship, faithfulness is in a friendship. I cannot remain faithful to any friendship I am not grateful for and I cannot be grateful unless I choose humility. The key to any great friendship is putting your friend first. No greater love hand any man than this than he lay down his life for his friends. This is not just a statement about Christ’s friendship with me but a standard for my friendship with him and his frineds.
Familiarity is huge in a great friendship. I have a buddy and we simply know. I know what he is thinking and he knows what I am thinking. This has made for the best in our friendship. We rarely have to apologize to each other because we rarely offend each other. We talk for hours on end, repeating stories because we know we love to hear each others thinking. We know exactly how to encourage each other because we are aware of each others strengths and weaknesses. This has happened by logging the time necessary to be familiar. Familiarity breeds contempt only when humility is absent.
I want people to understand love. Love is the action word for all friendships. Love is what causes me to live out the desires of my friend’s heart. In other words I love what my friend loves because I love my friend. Love is what drives remembering the values of friendship and of my friend in the middle of life. Here is another one of my slandered perversions of scripture.
Love is the act of kindness; love is patience applied; love is the enjoyment of my friends success (does not envy), love is the sharing of my success; (does not boast), love is seeking others first, love is choosing to not let hurt turn into anger; love chooses to erase the chalk board of offense; love holds on to holiness while being embarrassed by sin; love shields friends and friendship from harm; love starts every conversation believing the best; love is confident love is the best path; (love hopes) love hangs in and love holds the line when nothing else will. 1 Corinthians 13 kind of…
I want people to understand sacrifice. Great friendships are never based upon doing the minimum but upon sacrifice. No friendship ever grew deep without generosity. This is really the premise of “we love because he loved first.” God’s sacrificial, generous investment of love into my life is why I love.
Here is the impact. When friendship is a primary value, the tools for friendship are not burdensome. Church, the bible, prayer, giving, witnessing, serving are all on the list of good Christians but in reality these do not make me a good Christian, they are how I express and build friendship. Because I value my friendship with Christ these become no brainier’s to me, not burdens of being a Christian'.
For discussion: How do you build your friendship with God? How do you teach others to build a friendship with God?