Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Impossible Task of Making Disciples?

The Great Commission
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” Matthew 28:19-20.

Did Jesus say to go and make converts or to simply invite people to church? No, he told us to make disciples.

Did Jesus tell us to teach them all my commandments? No, he told us to “teach them to obey all my commandments”.

Anyone can teach someone all of his commandments. That is easy and just an exercise in basic instruction techniques and memorization. But teaching someone to obey all of his commandments like repenting, worshipping Jesus, and loving our enemies is another story.

The new life of a disciple is a life of obedience to Jesus' commandments, or it is not a new life at all.

In Luke 14:27, Jesus sheds some additional light on what it means to become a disciple "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

What does it mean to "bear our own cross"? Bearing a cross does not mean primarily having a bad day or going through hard times. It means going to Golgotha (the cross). It means dying with Christ—dying to the old attitudes of envy and strife and jealousy and anger and selfishness and pride; and turning to follow Jesus in newness of life.

When we make disciples, we exhort people to come and die to their old, destructive ways and to live for Jesus, who loved them and gave himself for them.

So, are you up for the impossible task of teaching someone how to obey everything Jesus has commanded of us? Are you yourself even up to the task of being a follower of Christ and obeying what he has commanded?

Here’s the deal, being a disciple and making disciples seems impossible and it is – without God. "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God" Mark 10:26.

So, how can we be strong enough to make disciples? It is not about our own effort or strength - although it takes a lot of effort and strength. Rather, being a disciple and discipling others requires tremendous spiritual power. And Christ was so gracious to leave us with a word of comfort and power: "and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).
The reason that promise is packed with power is that the one who made it has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) “therefore Jesus came to them and said, ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’”.

In Christ, who has the authority and power, we can excel at the seemingly impossible task of being a disciple and discipling others. The great commission is wrapped in powerful grace, and so are we.

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