Multiply: Week 2

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Part I: Living as a Disciple MakerWhy-is-the-Earth-round[1]

2: The Command to Make Disciples

When Jesus rose from the grave He left His disciples with one final command: to take His message to the world (known as the Great Commission). Can you imagine what would have happened if the disciples hadn’t been obedient? Christianity would have ceased to exist before it began! The disciples took Jesus’s words very seriously, traveling, teaching, and baptizing many; turning what began as a tiny off-shoot of Judaism, into Christianity, as we know it today.

Francis Chan writes, regarding the Great Commission:

Reading the New Testament , it’s not surprising to read that Jesus’s followers were focused on making disciples–it makes sense in light of Jesus’s ministry and the Great Commission. The surprise comes when we look at our churches today in light of Jesus’s command to make disciples.

Why is it that we see so little disciple making taking place in the church today? Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants the twenty-first-century church to do something different? None of us would claim to believe this, but somehow we have created a church culture where the paid ministers do the “ministry,” and the rest of us show up, put some money in the plate, and leave feeling inspired or “fed.” We have moved so far away from Jesus’s command that many Christians don’t have a frame of reference for what disciple making looks like. (Chan & Beuvig, 2012, p. 30)

Ouch! It hurts to hear the truth, doesn’t it? Next, Francis Chan goes on to talk about how “The Great Commission uses three phrases to describe what disciple making entails: go, baptize people, and teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded” (p 31).

But the simplest things to understand are often the most difficult to put into practice. Let’s start with baptism. In your church setting, baptism may not seem like that big of a deal. Maybe that’s why so many Christians today have never been baptized. But in the early days of the church, baptism was huge. Baptism was an unmistakable act that marked a person as a follower of Jesus Christ. As Jesus died and was buried in the earth, so a Christian is plunged beneath the surface of the water. As Jesus emerged from the tomb in a resurrected body, so a Christian comes out of the waters of baptism as a new creation…

Just as baptism is more significant than we might have thought, so teaching people to obey Jesus’s command is an enormous task. Realistically, this will require a lifetime of devotion of studying the Scriptures and investing in the people around us. Neither of these things is easy, nor can they be checked off a list. We are never really “done.” We continually devote ourselves to studying the Scriptures so that we can learn with ever-greater depth and clarity what God wants us to know, practice, and pass on . (Chan & Beuvig, 2012, p. 31-32)

I find this part so important. I’ve realized that the more I study God’s word, the more I want to share it, and pour it into the lives of others. Right now, as I study the book of Romans, I find myself sharing things not just with my blog followers, but with coworkers, family members, and my brothers & sisters in Christ. We cannot disciple others if we don’t know what God’s word says and aren’t putting it into practice in our own lives!

However, I’m also going to admit to you, that this has been no easy transformation in my life. I grew up wanting to be loved and accepted by everybody. Now, I’ve come to the realization that I’d rather be hated for speaking truth into the lives of others than to keep my mouth shut and let those I love and care about be left behind when Christ returns, or even worse, find themselves in the pit of hell; all because I was afraid of not being liked. It seems rather selfish, doesn’t it? We have to remember that we are not of this world.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)

Right now you’re probably thinking of all sorts of excuses as to why you can’t minister to others (I know, because I used to think the same way and still struggle with this sometimes), however, “as convincing as these excuses may seem to us, Jesus’s commands don’t come with exception clauses. He doesn’t tell us to follow unless we’re busy. He doesn’t call us to love our neighbors unless we don’t feel prepared” (p. 35). As Francis Chan states:

God made you the way you are; He has provided and will continue to provide you with everything you need to accomplish the task. Jesus commands you to look at the people around you and start making them into disciples. Obviously, only God can change people’s hearts and make them want to become followers. We just have to be obedient in making the effort to teach them, even though we still have plenty to learn ourselves. (Chan & Beuvig, 2012, p. 35).

Thanks for joining me for this week’s look at Multiply by Francis Chan & Mark Beuvig. I hope you’ll return next week for chapter three. Take care and God bless.

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Burning One

This week has been very stressful. I’ve wanted to blog the last few days, but decided against it. I was afraid of writing something inappropriate or bombarding people with more politically heated arguments and I didn’t want to do that to my readers. I have been thinking about a lot, though, and I do have much I’d like to write about, but I’ll try to pace myself, so as not to overwhelm you.

Thursday I read John chapter 17, which I’m going to share with you now:

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be as one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

What a chapter! Yes, I know it’s a bit longer than what I’d normally post on here, but the entire chapter really spoke to me. First off, as Jesus prays over His disciples in verses 6-19, He asks God to protect them (us). He says, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” It couldn’t have been made more clear to me this week, that this is most definitely where we stand as believers. The world hates us!

The world believes that because we speak the truth (express God’s commands and laws) and reject what they believe (that morality is relative and based on the beliefs of the individual), that we have/promote hatred for others. Nothing could be further from the truth!

We speak truth because we love people. We share God’s commands because we want them to go to heaven and see God’s glory. We want them to have eternal life! Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross is the most precious gift ever given to us and we want to share it with everyone, because we love them.

But the world doesn’t understand our love. They believe that when you love people, it means that you let them live life however they want to live it. They believe that when you love people, it means that you should let them do whatever makes them happy.

However, if you use this line of thinking, it is incorrect. I’ll give you an example…As a mother/father you love your child more than anybody. Does that mean you let your child do whatever they want? Does that mean you let them eat whatever they want? Or go wherever they want? Does that mean you take them wherever they want, whenever they want? Do you buy them whatever they want? Do you let them talk to you however they want? Go to school whenever they want? Do you let them stay up as late as they want? Or watch whatever they want? (I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.)

The truth is you don’t let them do whatever they want, whenever they want, because you love them, and want the best for them. Just as Christians love people and want the best for them.

Now, I will be honest and say, there are people out there that claim to be Christians, but are very hateful and have no compassion or mercy for others and I’m going to tell you that  in John 13:35 Jesus himself said that you’ll know a disciple of Christ by the love we have for one another. There are those who pretend to be what they are not and we can see right through them, by their lack of love for others.

Which brings me to my second point (yes, I know my first point was a long one, I told you I got a lot out of this chapter). We are not of this world. We may be here now, but we’re here for a very short time. I tweeted earlier about “How we live in this life will affect where we live in the next.” God left us His word (which I’m thankful for every day!) so that we can read it and study it and follow in Jesus’ footsteps. To be Christians is to be “Christ-like,” and to be sanctified is to be holy and set apart. We are not supposed to look, think, and act like everybody else! We’re not supposed to want the same things others want; our desires should be for Spiritual things! We’re supposed to be different. Our lives should reflect His! When others hate, we should love! When others are angry, we should forgive! When others are disrespectful, we should respect. Is it easy? No! But 1) we don’t rely on our own strength and 2) we’re told ahead of time it’s not going to be easy. Matthew 7:13-14 states that we should “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Only a few ->I think this is so sad; I want to take many with me!)

My last point, has to do with a book that I’ve been reading: Tortured for Christ, by Richard Wurmbrand (which you’ll probably hear more about in future blogs). Wurmbrand wrote something that really struck me hard and I really need to share with you.

One out of every five people in the world live in Communist China, where thousands of lay Christians evangelize without “permission.” Persecution has always produced a better Christian–a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet.

“Serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands“! How this breaks my heart; yet inspires me at the same time. We live in America, where we are free to reach out to the lost, share our faith, go to church, pray, and read our Bibles without persecution, and yet, how often do we take advantage of this gift!? I pray that the church (us!) may be one and that we teach by example; that we lead by example.

This week may have been a stressful week for me, but I tell you, it really made me aware of the spiritual condition of our youth/future (which I have a special place for in my heart); and these past few days have really lit a fire in my chest, that I pray doesn’t get extinguished.

I refuse to conform to this world. I refuse to be deceived by the “you only live once” mentality. I refuse to believe that it’s okay to kill a child in its mother’s womb. I refuse to believe that we should live and let live, when there are so many people on their way to the fiery furnace (Psalm 11:6, 21:9; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 13; Revelations 9:2, 19:20, 21:8).

I entitled this post “Burning One” based on the Jesus Culture song, “Burning Ones” because all day there was a burning in my chest compelling me to write what you see here. I love you and I pray that the Holy Spirit uses this post to change your heart the way He’s been moving in mine.

Take care and God Bless!