If we want to make Christian disciples, there’s only one place to look. At Jesus.
Not at Peter. Not at Paul. But at Jesus. Once we do, we’ll find Jesus employed a balanced method to discipleship that’s worth taking a look at.
Balance is important. Ever try walking without balance: wavering side to side, staggering a few steps forward then a few steps back? Progress comes with great difficulty when we’re out of balance. You could say this series is about discipleship balance.
It turns out the Christian walk requires balance the same way our physical walk does. Without it, we’ll stagger side-to-side and back-and-forth like babies and old drunkards. With a balanced approach to discipleship, Jesus empowered ordinary people toward extraordinary feats, and changed the course of world history. We can too.
When Jesus asked Peter and Andrew to follow him in Matthew 4:19, he promised to make them “fishers of men.” This is interesting for a couple of reasons.
It’s the vogue Christian thing right now to “go to the people” instead of “making the people come to us.” The idea implies the Church (as individuals) should not be content with simply asking the lost to “come to church.” Rather, we should be “taking the church to them.” I’ve even said this myself a time or two.
But Matthew 4, we see something different. Jesus engages Peter and Andrew “where they are” intending to immediately draw them out of their current situation. He needed to make them before they made others. They were not yet fishers of men, and Jesus was going to have the make them so leading them away from their current lifestyles. Jesus simply tell them about Himself before sending them off to “make disciples.” No, He asked them to follow him so in order to begin the discipling process by equipping them for the ministry.
Christian movements have bubbled up time and again in hopes of helping us learn how to disciple people. Many of which are out-of-balance, despite their good intentions. The Missional Church movement is gaining ground as of late, which offers many well-versed, well-thought out solutions to the problems facing the American Church. But one of the points I sharply disagree with in that movement is that 100% of the body should be “sent” or making disciples, and that the church gathering should shrink to a point of near non-existence in order to emphasize a life of “sentness” (or disciple-making) in our communities. That all sounds great, but it doesn’t account for the full model Jesus discipleship. Like Peter, like Andrew, and like the rest of the twelve, Jesus needs to make us if we are to disciple others. We need to spend time with Him and his people before we go leading others (astray, if we aren’t careful).[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”right” variation=”mossgreen” textColor=”#000000″ cite=”Matthew 4:19″]Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.[/pullquote3]
No soldier goes to war without his armor, a weapon, and some skill. Of course, the Spirit of God is the ultimate weapon, and like Gideon, our jobs may be to perform the weirdest, most abstract tasks so God gets all the glory. Gideon simply needed to obey.
Obedience cannot be understated. It is not a given. Obedience implies a denial of self and a significant levels of trust and faith. Sometimes it’s even earned, like in Gideon’s story with his fleeces. But the sort of obedience Jesus calls us toward — a sacrificial, take-up-your-cross obedience — requires a faith and trust in God that is born from a relationship with Him. A relationship fostered by walking alongside him in life’s journey.
We need to obey, but in order to do we, we must recognize the voice of the Spirit. And that recognition can only come from time spent with Him. And it’s during that time that God “makes” us.
Equipping is the first step to discipleship. And equipping happens around other believers, through the preaching and teaching of the Word and in the community of faith with whom we worship. It happens in the celebrations and testimonies on Sunday mornings, and through life relationships we form with our brothers and sisters — relationships we echo to those unsaved folks God has placed in our paths.
The scriptures tell us to put on the whole armor of God. It tells us to be equipped with truth, righteousness, readiness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. These are not instant and automatic.
We need to be made before we can make. We need to be prepared for what God has in store. That’s where it begins.