Speaking generally, it seems to me that the American church is about making converts to Christ, rather than disciples of Christ, in direct violation of God’s precise instruction found in Matthew 28.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
What if schools did this. What if they simply handed out diplomas without enrolling any students? What if students were enrolled, but were not required to observe, learn, or apply any of the curriculum? Would they remain in school? Would they flourish afterwards? Would their diplomas be of any worth?
Two Noteworthy Problems
- Most Christians don’t share their faith at all.
- Many who do, do so errantly.
The church is very much aware of the first issue: Christians have a tendency to hide their light under a basket. Statistics reveal that ’80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.’ (Jon D. Wilke, Lifeway.com August 13, 2012)
As a result guilt often kicks in and the Christian, motivated by his flesh rather than the Holy Spirit, sets out to correct the offense. As you can imagine this leads to the second problem: a wayward focus on conversion over discipleship; the shunning failure to declare the whole counsel of God. The probable reason we keep doing it is because occasionally it works; every so often a convert becomes a disciple.
There must be a better method.
What if we did it Jesus’ way?
What if we focused on enrolling students (aka: disciples) and emphasized learning? What if the church stressed and affirmed through education: spiritual growth, holiness, fear of the Lord, Christ’s supremacy, submission and obedience, abiding in Christ, fruitfulness, evangelism, love and forgiveness?
What if we echoed Christ’s clarion call:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
My brothers and sisters in Jesus, our methods lack Holy Spirit proficiency. Sure, some converts make it. I suppose if you fill a school with children and required nothing from them, perhaps a couple or three might decide to do some *work, but we all know that most will not. But isn’t this what the church typically does? Are we not guilty of handing out diplomas and then sitting back and waiting for disciples to appear? How many people have to leave the church or abandon their faith before we realize the error of our ways?
Can’t we see how large a role ignorance has played on both sides of the equation?
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Imagine the farmer planting his crops. Tell me, what occurs if he fails to first clear the land of boulder and brush; if sun-baked soiled is not tendered with the spade? Will the seed germinate; will it blossom and bloom, will it bring forth fruit? I’m seeing a liability issue. If you dare, consider if it is the seed’s fault or the farmer’s that the ground was not properly tilled? I submit to you that Jesus was addressing the farmer in all of us when He said:
“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-8)
*You may have noticed I mentioned the word ‘work’ in the text. Please understand that I am in no way suggesting or implying that there is any work a person can do unto salvation. Christ Jesus started and finished the work on the cross (nor am I suggesting that we ‘make’ disciples. That is another work of God and we are His instruments). I am however suggesting that work (discipleship if you will) follows salvation. The Christian who rejects work is playing with fire, just like the gardener who rejects work should expect weeds.
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